Nowadays, startups are an extremely popular business venture. It seems that every day, hundreds of new startups just pop up like mushrooms after rain. Despite that, whoever has tried it out on their own will be able to tell you that it’s no walk in the park. From day one, your startup will consume both your financial and time resources. As a founder, you’ll be in charge of everything. You’ll need to build up connections with potential clients, attract investors, develop a solid strategy plan, etc. You’ll even have to buy coffee at the beginning! So with all of that going around, probably the last thing on your mind is intellectual property law. However, an IP lawsuit against you can put an end to your business plan, no matter how great it may be. That’s why an intellectual property lawyer is a must.
What Is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property (IP) is a term that denotes any “creations of the mind” that U.S. law recognizes. Essentially, it’s an umbrella term for patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. Let’s go over these different types of intellectual property.
First, we’ve got patents. You can file for a patent if your product or service is something novel, a useful invention of yours. We advise you to protect your IP immediately. It’s so much easier to get a patent before everybody finds out about your creation and starts using it! Of course, if you’re a good Samaritan who just wants the world to be a better place, that’s a different thing.
To obtain a patent, you need to file an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Obtaining a patent is the most tiresome and time-consuming of all intellectual properties. Since the patent law is strict, it can take years and countless back-and-forths with the Office to get a patent.
These exist to protect your “expression of ideas.” However, they’re not as exclusive as patents are. For instance, you can have copyright on a photo of a bed you’ve taken. Now, others can also take a photo of that bed. However, if they use your particular photo, that’s copyright infringement.
Registering copyrighted material will give you exclusive rights to your work. This will help you a great deal with protecting your startup and your work.
You know that ® symbol? That’s a trademark! Basically, trademarks deal with the marketing side of your company — it’s about making sure nobody else can use your brand but you.
Although you don’t have to register your trademark, it’s best that you do. Without an accepted trademark application sent to the Patent and Trademark Office, your trademark won’t have nationwide rights.
Finally, we have trade secrets. If your business deals with intangible and unique assets, you can register them as trade secrets. These include:
- Market data
- Business processes, etc.
Getting Help From a Professional
As you’ve probably guessed by now, securing an intellectual property is not an easy thing to do. It’s never a straightforward process, as there’s a myriad of steps you and the Patent Office need to take to confirm everything is as you claim it to be.
That’s why you should always seek legal advice from experienced law firms. If you’re already doing that, why not reach out to the best? Here at Davis, Ermis, & Roberts P.C., we have over 35 years of experience with proprietary information and IP laws. If you have any questions regarding intellectual property, feel free to contact us and get some advice!