Did you know that your Intellectual Property (IP) is the most valuable asset in your business? What effort do you put into protecting your IP? The vast majority of businesses don’t even think about protecting their IP. Your IP includes your trademark (whether registered or not), your client/customer information and most importantly, the way that you do what you do.
This aspect of the business is one that most business owners miss; they are so used to the way that they perform their work that they think every other business operates the same way. The truth is that your IP is unique and it is worth protecting.
While it is the most important asset of your business, legally, your IP is very difficult to protect. Copyright only protects the expression of an idea, not the idea itself. Ideas (which form most of the systems and processes) are difficult to protect unless the idea can be registered as a patent (which is difficult).
As a business owner it is critical that you set out and standardise your systems and procedures. This will ensure that you protect your processes as best as possible so that it isn’t reliant on you.
A trademark is the logo or name of your business or product. It is what separates you from your competitors, letting the outside world know how to find you or your product. Once you know that you have a minimum viable product or service (you have some customers and are starting to build a team), you should consider registering your trademark.
Registration of a trademark gives you protection that stops anyone else in your market using that or a similar trademark. There are lots of rules about registering a trademark; it’s not for every business, so you should seek advice from a lawyer or IP professional to determine if it is right for you.
If you want to build a business that is more than just you, then you need to consider how you are going to protect your IP. Writing down your systems and processes will mean that you have documented and consistent processes in your business.
If you have a unique system or process, then you should consider applying for a patent. If you have a trademark that is unique and valuable, then you should consider registering your trademark. The protections that you put in place for your business are crucial for your continued success. There are many ways to be right so if you are unsure, please speak to your lawyer or IP professional.