Welcome to 2012! It’s a new year, a fresh start, the time of year when we make resolutions to do things differently, better or just actually do them. What’s your new year resolution? If you’re a business owner, chances are you have some personal resolutions and some professional ones.
This year, make a resolution to get your Intellectual Property house in order. Those nagging little things like trademarks, copyrights, patents and contracts you know you should do but just never got around to last year. This is a resolution worth keeping and we promise it’s one of the best decisions you can make for your business.
Here’s our checklist of top things to get started in protecting the intangible assets of your company:
1. Register your intellectual property. Let’s say you were fortunate enough to receive an iPhone or a Kindle for Christmas. What’s the first thing you did after opening the box? You logged on to “register your device,” didn’t you? You created a record that the iPhone or Kindle belongs to you and you have proof of ownership through registration.
Intellectual property works exactly the same way. Bolster your legal rights with a federal trademark registration at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a registered copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, or a registered patent from the USPTO. These measures create enforceable rights in your favor if you are ever in the position of defending your right of priority use and/or ownership.
2. Search your brand. Search your company or brand name every so often just to see what shows up, you may be surprised. A low-maintenance way to keep track of things on the Internet that may be of interest to you is to set up a Google Alert for your brand name (Bing may also offer this service). Google will send you daily or weekly alerts of any articles, websites or content containing your designated keyword(s).
3. Maintain consistency. Ensure your brand is represented consistently each and every time it’s used, by you and especially by others. If your logo includes a stylized font, special capitalization or other unique identifiers, be sure it is always used and represented that way. This ensures the strength and consistency of your trademark and will work in your favor in case of possible infringement where someone may not use your exact mark or wording, but something very similar in sound or appearance.
4. Take advantage of legal tools. One of the most common tools for intellectual property protection is a Confidentiality and Non-Circumvention Agreement. It’s a relatively simple document, it can be reworked for various counter-parties, and it provides some measure of enforceable protection when sharing business ideas, concepts and innovations with others. It’s not foolproof, no contract is, but it is a written record of your mutual understanding regarding origination, ownership, confidentiality and financial gain, if any.
These are just a few suggestions to help you keep your Intellectual Property Protection resolution for 2012. If you need any assistance or additional information on these tips, please give us a call, (800) 769-7790. On behalf of the attorneys at Minott Gore, P.A. and FlatFeeTrademark.com, we wish you a very prosperous and well-protected new year!