As entrepreneurs, it’s important to protect our brand, work, and ideas from theft and copycats. To do this, we must be aware of the intellectual property rights that are in place to safeguard our work, namely copyrights, trademarks, and patents.
A copyright protects original works of authorship such as poetry, novels, artwork, and computer software. It gives the owner exclusive rights to reproduce and profit from the work. In many cases, copyright exists from the moment the work is created. However, you can register your work to obtain a certificate of registration as concrete evidence of ownership. Check out these FAQs on the US Copyright Office website to learn more.
A trademark, on the other hand, protects a word, phrase, symbol, or design. Companies often trademark their brand name, slogan, and/or their logo to protect their branding. When you’ve invested money and time creating your brand name, logo, and securing a corresponding domain name, it’s worth going the extra mile to trademark your brand name to prevent any ‘copycat’ incidents that may dilute brand equity in the future.
Meanwhile, patents protect novel inventions for a limited duration, around 15 to 20 years. If you’ve created a one-of-a-kind prototype, nothing the likes of which is currently in the market, consider filing for a patent before you start sales and distribution. You could lose the rights to your invention, if someone else copies your design and beats you to it!
To learn more, check out these resources for entrepreneurs available on the US Patent and Trademark Office website. It provides guidance on how to get started with the application process and answers a wide range of FAQs.
These legal measures may seem tedious and unnecessary, but they provide grounds for action against those who steal your ideas and work. Take this extra step to protect YOUR work, so others can’t exploit it.