Why IP Law is Important for Small Businesses
When corporations need protection, they hire a corporate attorney. When hospitals need protection they hire a medicare fraud defense attorney. What about a small business?
Running a small business, there are plenty of things to stay on top of and focus on already. So why should intellectual property be of interest? Isn’t that for bigger companies to worry about?
In short: no. Small businesses especially need to be well versed in intellectual property matters, in order to take full advantage of protections offered by the system. This guide will explore what intellectual property law means for smaller businesses and why it’s so important.
IP Law Has Many Facets
Intellectual property, also known as IP, covers inventions, branding, creative works, and other intangible things where ownership becomes important.
There are several main categories of IP law. In India, there are five main things that small businesses should be concerned about.
- Trademarks: trademarks protect logos, brand names, slogans, and other “marks” that help consumers identify a specific company in the market.
- Patents: patents cover products and inventions. In India, standard patent protection lasts for 14 years, while food, chemical, or pharmaceutical patents last for 7 years.
- Copyrights: copyrights protect creative work, such as literary works, dramatic or musical creations, sound recordings, and art. Most such work is automatically protected by common law, but copyright registration is encouraged to ensure easy access to legal action.
- Geographical Indication: this essentially means that goods produced in certain areas of India are solely able to claim to be from that region, shielding legitimate businesses from impostors.
- Industrial Design: industrial design refers to the visual and physical design of produced goods or products. This can include colors, shapes, patterns, and so on.
IP Law and Your Business
As you can see, IP law is no easy concept to wrap your head around. So how does something like this impact your small business?
Small business tends to fall victim to predatory larger businesses. Some larger companies with a competent legal team and lots of money are constantly looking for smaller businesses without adequate IP protection to exploit.
Those predatory companies can then bring the smaller business’s ideas to market before anyone else can, and effectively profit off of someone else’s innovation.
According to J.D. Houvener, a Chicago patent attorney, small businesses and entrepreneurs have the most to gain from making sure their intellectual property stays protected:
“Small business owners, entrepreneurs, and innovators are the people that keep the market moving and introduce new technologies that better society. And yet, those are the very same people most at risk for getting their inventions were stolen and their hard work exploited. IP protection is one of those key legal areas that protect smaller, newer enterprises from bigger companies looking to keep them out of the market.”
So how does a company get started with IP protection?
Firstly, it’s never a bad time to figure out your business’s intellectual property protections. The faster you register your intellectual property with the appropriate authorities, the more time you’ll have left in the countdown that starts as soon as you publicly disclose an idea.
Speed is also of the essence to get out ahead of anyone else looking to develop the same product or worse, trying to rip your concept off.
Make sure to register your trademark as soon as possible, get any copyrights registered for original creative work, and figure out if you can claim any geographical indication protection.
When it comes to patents, make sure to do a patent search to see if your product or service is a new and unique as you thought. Even if you find that your concept is already prolifically available, you will gain new insight to better be able to move forward and compete in the market.
Consult a reputable patent attorney or law firm as soon as you can, and get started protecting your small business and all its IP needs.
While small businesses can be overwhelmed by the daily tasks required to keep themselves afloat, IP protection is one of the most crucial and urgent things to look into.
Small businesses especially are at risk when it comes to intellectual property matters, and should always take the steps needed to bring their ideas to market successfully. To figure out what IP protections your business could be taking advantage of, get in touch with a patent attorney or an intellectual property firm to discuss your options.
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