There are a growing number of new brands emerging in just about every industry you can think of, and it’s more important than ever to know about your options to protect your brand. In the digital era, where virtually everything is accessible online, taking hold of your intellectual ownership can be quite strategic. This post will guide you through understanding the best practices of dealing with intellectual property (IP).
Whether you are focusing on ways to promote your brand or scale your business, homing in on protection should always come first. In order to do so, you must first decide what kind of content most accurately reflects your brand so that you can protect it appropriately. The first step is to know which type of intellectual property you are working with, and then you can learn about your options to file.
Three Main Types of Intellectual Property
- Copyright: This is mainly referring to stories, literary works in general, and musical compositions. Examples of this may include fiction and nonfiction books, textbooks, and songs.
- Patent: A patent is typically issued to protect an invention or type of scientific discovery. These are usually applied to vaccines, technological inventions, and anything else that may have required some degree of research or use of the scientific method.
- Trademark: When it comes to trademarks, the definition is essentially everything else that is not a copyright or patent. In other words, think of brand logos, pictures, fonts, certain spellings, brand slogans, catchy phrases, and anything else that is relatively short.
How To Register Your IP
Once you have determined which form of intellectual property applies to your brand, it’s time to file. You can do so with one of two main approaches. Prior to filing, you should always consider a consultation with an attorney and make sure that what you are filing for is not already taken or very similar to something protected by someone else.
The next step is to register your work with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. They are the official governing body for validating your intellectual property (in the United States, at least). You can do so with them on your own, or you can hire a lawyer to do the paperwork for you. The benefit of doing the work yourself is that you save time and money in the application process. The pros of working with a professional is that they save you the time and energy from dealing with any potential legal hurdles in the event that something is overlooked in the beginning.
If you find it financially challenging to work with a lawyer at this time, there are a few alternatives to go about filing. One is to open a preliminary filing application, and have your lawyer look over it once you are ready to take your brand to the next step. The other option is to work with legal technology and document filing companies that have experience helping small businesses protect their valuable ideas. Having a little extra help can make the intellectual property registration process simple and cost effective.
Whether you are just starting your brand or are already established, ensuring the preservation of your intellectual property is a key piece of the success puzzle. The sooner you do this, the better off your brand will be from any future legal ordeals.
Learn more about trademarks in the infographic below.
Mike Floeck is a writer who creates engaging content about legal interests like intellectual property, business formation, and much more. The graphic in this article was created for and reviewed by LegalZoom to assist aspiring entrepreneurs and established businesses with understanding intellectual property protection.
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