How not to accidentally invite intellectual property litigation

The common advice for companies that want to avoid intellectual property litigation is simply not to steal or appropriate another entity’s IP. However, there is one major problem with this advice; it is one-sided. What happens when the business owner is the one who gets their idea stolen? Or, what happens when an entrepreneur gets sued for creating and capitalizing on technology that bears a close but accidental resemblance to someone else’s?

Business News Daily notes that entrepreneurs often do not give enough thought to intellectual property rights. Because of this, they are often taken aback by the large expense these types of litigation can present for a company, especially a small one with fewer resources to draw from. When protecting IP, the first step is identifying what counts as IP and then utilizing the following tools where applicable:

  •          Trade secrets
  •          Trademarks
  •          Copyrights
  •          Patents

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and once again, still only one-sided. Many entrepreneurs may also make the mistake of only focusing on the bigger picture, while neglecting to hold graphic designers and writers accountable. Plagiarism and using someone else’s photographs or designs may trigger IP litigation as well. Because of this, business executives must do thorough research, read the fine print and seek a professional opinion.

Forbes also reminds company executives to be mindful of enabling public disclosure. This might happen when a company exhibits the product at a tradeshow or launches a video or white paper detailing how it works. The window to patent this invention closes within a year.

There is no foolproof way to prevent IP litigation. Even when an inventor or business takes all the necessary steps, someone may decide to try their luck if they believe they have a passable claim. However, at the very least, they should try to avoid any missteps that could invite a lawsuit over their own intellectual property.

This article shares information on intellectual property. It should not be misconstrued as or used in place of legal advice.

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