By: Steven Masur
Intellectual property refers to the original creations of the mind. Such creations can include inventions, artwork, product names, written works, website content, computer programs, to name a few. Unfortunately, intellectual property is often plagiarized, and can be done so in many forms. For instance, one can pass-off the ideas or words of another as their own; one can use another’s production without crediting the source; one can disguise a new and original idea or product that in fact is derived from an existing source. With the help of an intellectual property lawyer, you can prevent theft of your original creations or ideas. Here are some tips to help you in the process:
Carefully Guard Information
It is in your best interest to keep your original creations or ideas to yourself until you have secured legal protection. Importantly, a mere idea – as opposed to a work fixed in a tangible medium of expression – is not copyrightable. This means additional steps must be taken to protect an idea if you plan to discuss the idea with another individual. The best way to do so is to avoid having the discussion in public, and to require anyone you discuss it with to sign a non-disclosure agreement. This may seem overly cautious, but this is the best way to prevent your idea from being repackaged by others.
Thoroughly Document Your Ideas
Starting from the onset of developing your idea, be sure to document and continue as the process evolves. These records will help you when you apply for legal protection, such as a trademark or a copyright. They will also serve as evidence if you have to file a lawsuit against another party for a trademark or copyright infringement.
Apply for Legal Protection of Your Ideas
Apply for legal protection of your original ideas that you plan to pursue. The longer you wait, the greater the risk that your idea is pursued by another. If you are an artist, musician, writer, or any other type of artist or entrepreneur, you can apply for copyright registration with the United States Copyright Office. You can also apply for trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to protect your business name, logo, slogans, or any other part of your business identity. While the USPTO does not require an applicant to be represented by a licensed attorney, the trademark registration process can be tricky. As such, hiring an attorney may save you time and money because an attorney will know how to best advise you on the registrability of your mark, formally prepare your application to the USPTO’s liking, and respond to the USPTO on various issues that oftentimes arise during the application process.
Include Legal Protection for Existing Intellectual Property
If you have existing intellectual property, it is important to seek legal protection for that as well to avoid the risk of another individual claiming your intellectual property as their own without legal ramifications. You can do so by obtaining registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office or the United States Copyright Office which will provide you with federal protection over your intellectual property.