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6 Common Intellectual Property Mistakes Business Owners Make

Lucere Legal helps business owners protect their intellectual property

Your business’ creative assets go beyond the products or services you offer, and your company has intellectual property that needs to be protected.  Business owners and entrepreneurs often make one of these six mistakes, neglect to put the proper safeguards in place, and end up with big legal expenses down the road.

Here are 6 costly IP mistakes you need to avoid to protect your brand:

1.  Choosing the wrong name.  When you are contemplating the name of a company, a service,  or a product, you need to do some research before choosing a name and spending money marketing it.  First, run a simple search on Google.  Then go deeper by searching the U.S. Patent and Trademark office website.

2. Not being specific.  When it comes to trademark law, there are levels of distinction that apply, and not every name is approved for trademark in every situation. Using a simple descriptive name will likely not do you any good for distinguishing your company as a brand  and will be almost impossible to trademark.  Have your IP attorney conduct a search  to find obvious conflicts and to gauge where your name may fall in the spectrum of trademark distinctiveness.

3.  Assuming that if the domain is available, you can use the name.  Just because the dot.com is available does not mean that the name is available for use.  Before you spend a lot of money developing a website, make sure there are no other companies that have trademarked the name, or else you could be on the receiving end of a cease and desist letter.

4.  Getting a logo without securing its copyrights.  Hiring someone to design your logo with no written agreement in place on copyright ownership is a mistake many startups make.  Even if you are only spending a couple hundred dollars for a logo design, have a written agreement with the designer that assigns the copyright on the design to you.

5.  Assuming every idea needs a patent.  When you file for a patent, your idea becomes a matter of public record.  If your invention has a short shelf life, will be difficult to reverse-engineer or can be maintained as a secret, you may want to treat it as a trade secret instead.  Your IP attorney can provide you with the proper guidance to help you make the right decision.

6.  Neglecting copyrights.  Copyrights are inexpensive and easy to file and can provide additional IP protection, but are often overlooked.  Copyrights need to be highly specific, but can be used to protect designs, drawings and even computer code.

To learn more, see our Intellectual Property Rights page and be sure to download our Guide to Trademarks.

If you’re a small or mid-size business owner and would like to make sure your intellectual property is protected, call us at (612) 206-3701 or fill out our contact form today to schedule a business consultation session.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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