Because it is intangible, it can be challenging to clearly identify your company’s intellectual property. Intellectual property is the knowledge, processes and intangible technology that your company develops and uses.
In many cases, your intellectual property is more valuable than your company’s physical assets. Therefore, these are ways you can protect it.
Identify your intellectual property
Your first step should include identifying every piece of intellectual property you have. In addition to the previous examples, you also have branding strategies; written materials, such as employee manuals, process documents, etc.; your business phone number and URL; proprietary software you created; etc.
Decide between types of protection
You have several options for protecting your intellectual property. You can file for a patent, trademark or copyright, or you can keep the property as a trade secret. Patents, trademarks and copyrights make all your information public and can be costly to defend. Trade secrets should provide real value to your company and you have to try to keep them secret. However, your competition could purchase your product and figure out your product secrets.
Retain personal ownership
Hold at least some of your intellectual property assets personally, including your company URL and phone number. If your company gets sued and loses the lawsuit, your opponent could gain access to these assets and use them to boost their reputation or take advantage of your loyal customers.
Create proprietary information agreements
Everyone in your company should sign a proprietary information and invention assignment agreement (PIIA), which gives your company the legal right to anything they invent, design or create while they work for you. Also, have them sign nondisclosure agreements.
Do not underestimate the value of your intellectual property. Take the steps necessary to protect it and your company.