1. Intellectual Property Advantages
2. Intellectual Property Rights
3. The Importance of IP Protection

Intellectual property benefits include protecting business assets that are critical to your company's success and your product and service profitability.

Intellectual Property Advantages

Protecting your business's intellectual property provides significant benefits. These include:

  • Increasing your company's market value through income generation avenues that can include sales, commercialization, and licensing
  • Transforming ideas into vehicles for profit
  • Creating an image for your business that helps you market your products and services to customers
  • Raising money for your business by using IP assets as debt collateral or when applying for government or public funding, as well as through sales and licensing
  • Increasing your competitive advantage in the global market

Granting some types of IP rights is automatic while others require a process to qualify. Common examples of protected IP include logos, slogans, and other elements of corporate identity as well as products, services, and processes that distinguish your offerings from those of market competitors. Copyright protection is automatic when creating an item. It doesn't protect the idea itself, but rather the representation of the idea.

Although the internet has exponentially increased the potential reach of most businesses, it has also facilitated increased IP theft. Companies with an online presence are at risk from infringement by companies all over the world, making IP protection more important than ever before. For small businesses, failure to shield this valuable asset can result in lost revenue and stunted growth.

Intellectual Property Rights

As the owner of IP, you have the exclusive right to use the IP in question. Having a patent means that others are legally barred from making, using, or selling your product. A trademark prevents other businesses from using a similar business or brand name.

You also have the right to sell or license your IP rights to others. For example, you can license the distribution rights for your invention to another business that can help you exploit a particular market, in exchange for either a lump sum payment, royalty payments, or combining these two methods.

You can also monitor the activities of your competitors through their IP. For example, patent and trademark registration applications are public, so you can access these documents to learn more about another company's planned direction.

Some countries offer tax breaks on the sale of products and services for registered IP rights increasing your business's potential profits. 

Licensing IP rights can also help attract investors by demonstrating the IP can generate future income. This can also show shareholders that their investments in research and development have been appropriately protected.

The Importance of IP Protection

Many companies overlook protection of their intellectual property in the same way as they do their physical assets. However, safeguarding your IP is critical to a profitable and successful business' development. Logo, branding, and other identifying trademarks represent your product and service quality in the marketplace.

Most companies have at least one trademark to protect. Registering it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office is a good way to begin safeguarding your IP. Patent protection covers novel inventions. Another category of IP, trade secrets, covers confidential information, procedures, and other cornerstones of your company's success. If you have employees, your trade secrets are at risk of infringement.

All these areas of IP distinguish you from your competition and are thus extremely valuable. In addition to trademark registration, steps you take to protect your company's IP include nondisclosure agreements, employee agreements, and patent registration. Copyright protection is valuable for businesses that produce creative works, including film, marketing, advertising, and software.

Creating and maintaining an online presence for your business can also distinguish you from the competition as well as provide valuable e-commerce sales and extend your advertising reach. Some steps toward building your company's home online include registering a domain name, using search engine optimization strategies, listing your business in online directories and search engines, and monitoring the web for IP infringement. 

If you have employees, considering creating a social media policy in your employee handbook. This policy should cover the disclosure of business information online, third-party trademark infringement on social media, infringement of copyrighted works, and questionable comments or inappropriate product reviews made by employees.

If you need help with protecting your business's intellectual property, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.