Intellectual property is an incredibly valuable asset for almost any organization, especially when innovative designs and processes are at stake. Intellectual property includes anything from patents and trademarks to copyrights and trade secrets. For start-up businesses or even businesses that are already in operation in California, it’s important for owners to understand the importance of intellectual property.
When it comes to intellectual property, businesses want to ensure that they do not ‘contaminate’ their own trademark by using similar designs or information from other companies. It is critical that upon creation of one’s business that everything is done from scratch and is researched to ensure that it isn’t similar to any other business out there. Otherwise, a company could run into disputes, especially when that company gets off the ground quickly and successfully.
Often, where intellectual property is concerned, the master mind behind the work, the one who designed and created it, is not an employee. Then, that person potentially holds rights to the design because the proper documentation was not signed in order to transfer the legal rights to the company. It’s crucial that a business has the appropriate legal documentation signed by everyone involved to ensure that all creations that are made with the company’s money are the company’s property.
A common problem with intellectual property is the name of the business. Often, business names are very similar, although not exactly the same. This could cause confusion among consumers, which is not what any business owner wants with their company. Checking with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is a good step forward in ensuring that one’s business abides by the trademark law.
Ideas cannot be patented, causing confusion among businesses. A patent is only obtainable if the idea has actually been created. Businesses should clearly identify the differences between the different types of intellectual property, as this is often a common concern.
Business owners can see that there are several aspects of intellectual property that aren’t always clear. However, in order to assure that one’s business in California abides by all laws and state regulations, intellectual property is not something to be looked over. Any business that wants to see success needs to take time to learn about it to ensure that all laws are followed to protect their business.
Source: WSJ.com, “5 ‘IP’ Mistakes Start-ups Should Avoid,” Antone Johnson, May 10, 2012