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intellectual property law

Understanding Intellectual Property Rights for Small Businesses

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You might have a great business pitch in mind and a few good ideas here and there that would be great for starting a business. Why don’t you? Believe it or not, good ideas can be worth millions. Take Facebook or Google as examples. These started as great ideas that eventually grew to be bigger, and so did their value.

Before you make any big strides in starting your business, keep yourself informed. Learn more about the basics. Here’s a bit of a rundown about what Intellectual Property is about and how you can protect yours.

What Is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property is anything you create from your own mind. This can be a brand name, a specific design, or an invention. Intellectual property can have one or more owners and can be sold or transferred. You can protect your ideas through patents, copyrights, or trademarks.

Patent vs. Trademark vs. Copyright

Before you protect what’s yours, you have to be able to know how to do it. Depending on the nature of your intellectual property, it can be protected by either patents, copyright, or trademarks.

A patent is a legal term used to describe a creator’s right to exclusive use of an invention. Such inventions include products, innovations, or a technical solution to a unique problem. This protects the invention from being made available commercially, distributed, or sold without consent. To attain one, the owner should complete their patent application for legal certainty and have the invention’s information disclosed to the public.

Meanwhile, a trademark distinguishes goods or services of enterprise A from enterprise B, enterprise C, and so on. The owner has the right to use the trademark exclusively or license its use to another party. Similar to a patent, a registration is involved.

Lastly, copyright, also known as the author’s right, describes creators’ rights over their literary and artistic works. These include books, paintings, sculptures, films, music, computer programs, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings. These afford the creator their economic and moral rights.

How Are IP attorneys helpful?


Who better to consult than a professional? This is where the intellectual property lawyer comes in. IP attorneys help equip you with the tools you need to protect your intellectual property. They oversee the process of your filing to make sure nothing’s amiss. For something as important as your application, you need expert eyes. Your IP attorney can spot loopholes or problematic portions in your claims. They will ensure that your claim will not leave you vulnerable to your competitors’ advantage.

In line with that, they offer advice from the filing stage to sticky situations like infringement. Let’s say another brand or company uses your idea. If a sticky situation like this does arise, your IP attorney is obligated to lay out the best course of legal action.

Over the years, many small groups and artists have come out on social media about their work being stolen by big corporations. One of those cases was Modern Dog vs. Target corporation. A lawsuit was filed by Modern Dog against Target for copyright infringement.  Modern Dog, a design firm based in Seattle, alleged that Target had used an illustration they had made on one of their shirts. In 2013, the judge ruled in Modern Dog’s favor. The core of this case was how a big corporation has profited from stealing the work of a small firm with fewer resources than them. Even though Modern Dog was forced to sell their studio to cover the legal costs of this battle, they did not regret fighting back.

Naturally, your IP attorney is obligated to defend you even if you were on the other side of that table. If someone accuses you of infringement, they may be able to determine the weight and legitimacy of the concerned party’s claims. Either way, they can defend you if things cannot be resolved with a settlement.

Your IP attorney is integral to the investigation of your patent claim or trademark registration too. A part of it, especially for patents, is auditing. This is where you can determine the value, assets, capital allowance, and other technicalities of your intellectual property.

How IP Laws Are Helping Businesses

As illustrated by the example above, small businesses are entitled to protect themselves, even and especially from corporate giants. Thanks to IP laws. Without them, it would all be hearsay and the small guy losing every time.

This enables small businesses to grow in their respective industries, able to compete. This ensures that the only business profiting from the IP is the owner’s business itself. It’ll also save on legal costs in case a party does end up stealing your IP. Practicing IP rights signals competitors that you know your rights and legal actions you can do if anyone ever steals your work.

It’s your ideas, so it’s just right that you and only you can profit from these. Cover all the basics and keep yourself equipped. Know your rights as a creator and grow your business.

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