Access to seemingly endless information at our fingertips makes it more important than ever for business owners to proactively protect their intellectual property. The type of intellectual property protection needed depends on your property. There are four types of intellectual property protection available under U.S. law:
- Original material has copyright protection. Musical scores, plays, books, graphics, artistic works, and computer programs are some of the most common types of property protected by copyright. The holder of the copyright has exclusive right to use the work and choose who else can use the work.
The processing time for electronically filed applications is about two and a half months. The paperwork takes about five and a half months to complete.
- If you’ve invented something, a patent can protect your rights. There are utility, design, and plant patents. All three types give the patent holder the exclusive right to make, sell, or use an invention. Utility patents are for the process or machine itself. A design patent is used for a new design aspect of a product for manufacture. Plant patents are to protect a brand-new variety of plant.
Filing for a patent is a complex and lengthy process. It can take up to six years and requires a significant investment. It’s generally considered unwise to attempt to file a patent without the assistance of a professional patent attorney.
- Trademarks are symbols, designs, phrases, or words that distinguish the products or services of one business from those of its competitors. For example, the Toyota logo distinguishes its cars from cars made by other automotive manufacturers.
Trademark rights are generally acquired through use of the item. However, registering it properly gives the business more authority to enforce its rights. You may submit the application online, but the process is complex. For the greatest chance of success, most people employ the services of an attorney to help with the process.
If you have enlisted one of these methods of protection for your intellectual property and another party is disregarding your trademark, patent, or copyright, this is called infringement of intellectual property rights. You have the right to pursue legal action to stop this party from infringing on your intellectual property rights.
Guard Trade Secrets Closely
Formulas, processes, devices, recipes, computer algorithms, and any other business information that a business wishes to keep private is a trade secret. Trade secrets can be essential for a business to maintain its competitive edge. For example, the recipe for Coca-Cola is a closely guarded trade secret.
Trade secrets don’t have a special filing or registration process. The only way to protect a trade secret is by closely guarding the information. Restricting access to the information and nondisclosure agreements are some tools used to protect this type of property.
Use an Attorney to Protect Your Rights
Intellectual property protection is a complex area of the law. Navigating it incorrectly could result in inadequate protection. The law firm of Bennett, Weston, LaJone & Turner, P.C., provides full-service business and commercial law services throughout the state of Texas. Contact us today to find out how a business tort attorney can help a represent you in an infringement of intellectual property matter.