1. Know what you own and identify your IP assets
To effectively protect your intellectual property, you need to have a clear understanding of the different types of IP and categorize what you own. IP typically falls into four categories: copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets. Explore and identify which category your assets belong in, as each IP type is protected differently under the law. For instance, logos, slogans, and company names are protected under trademarks, while artistic creations like books or music fall under copyrights.
2. Register your IP and ensure legal ownership
Once you have identified and categorized your IP, taking the necessary legal steps to register and secure your ownership is paramount. Register your trademarks, copyright, and patents with relevant government agencies, and perform regular searches to ensure no one infringes on your claims. Although some protection is provided without registration, registering provides proof of ownership and access to additional legal remedies in case of infringement.
3. Manage your digital assets and online presence
Your digital assets, such as websites and social media accounts, must be secured to prevent unauthorized access, IP theft, or the spread of misinformation. A few fundamental steps to secure your digital identity include using strong, unique passwords for each account you own, regularly updating security measures like SSL certificates, and enabling two-factor authentication. Additionally, consistently monitor your online presence for any unauthorized use of your IP or impersonation.
4. Strategize and implement an IP protection plan
Developing a strategic plan and implementing it will provide guidelines for your employees, collaborators, and partners about maintaining your IP protection. This may include setting up strict policies to protect trade secrets, ensuring digital content is only available to authorized users, using proper licensing agreements with clients and customers, and having regular training sessions on protecting your company’s digital content, software, and hardware.
5. Be proactive and vigilant in enforcing your IP rights
Enforcement is as crucial as registering and securing your IP. Being proactive is key, as unauthorized use of your IP might not always be obvious. Consistently keeping an eye out for potential infringements, monitoring online auctions and commerce platforms, and setting up Google Alerts for your company name, logo, or taglines can help you identify possible IP theft. Should you find your IP being used without your authorization, take swift legal action to minimize damage and deter future infringements.