Intellectual property (IP) includes your company’s creations, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, and product designs, along with symbols, names, and images used in commerce.
If your company relies on innovation or only the strength of its reputation, it will entail using some intellectual property. As a result, you need to manage your IP effectively within your market to realize its full benefits.
Your company needs a strong IP strategy to protect your patents, trademarks, tradenames, and copyrights, but also needs to leverage your IP to maintain the existing market. Your company should monitor its IP, decide whether and how to protect it, and create a comprehensive plan for developing and exploiting it commercially. In addition, you must be certain that you’re not infringing the rights of others.
The patent strategy for your company involves leveraging resources to thoroughly evaluate your markets and customers while protecting your company’s intellectual property. For example, existing distribution channels can be vital components in determining whether a business should invest in patent registration and enforcement in other countries.
Trademark rights protect words, names, symbols, devices, or any combination of these. Trademarks help consumers differentiate between products in the marketplace from various companies. Trademarks and trade secrets are unlike patents and copyrights because they can survive indefinitely based on their commercial use or value.
Trademark registration lasts 10 years and can be renewed for additional 10-year terms if the trademark continues to be used in connection with the products and services for which it is registered. Trade secrets are allowed indefinite protection if it continues to be of value in the marketplace, its value comes from its secret nature, and the owner takes reasonable precautions to maintain its secrecy.
Copyrights are often disregarded as a valuable business asset. There are a vast variety of works that are appropriate for copyright protection, such as software programs, websites, databases, directories, technical materials, manuals, digital works, videos, and musical recordings. The ownership of a copyright is automatic, and it exists from the time the work is created. But you should still register your copyright with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
A regular review of the competition and the market for potential infringement, as well as an up-to-date understanding of how your company’s IP portfolio reflects its business, gives you effective specifications to safeguard your IP assets.
Your Company’s Marketing Strategy
Your marketing strategy should create a clear association between your products or services and your company, as the producer or provider of those products or services. You want your IP to help customers to immediately distinguish between your products or services and those of your competitors, as well as to connect them with specific desired qualities.
With that in mind, efficiently used IP can be an important engine to place an image for your business in the minds of your current and potential customers and in the positioning of your company in the market. IP rights, coupled with other marketing tools like advertising and other promotion are crucial for: (i) separating your products and services from others, and making them easily recognizable; (ii) promoting your products or services and establishing a loyal following; (iii) diversifying your market strategy to certain targeted consumers; and (iv) marketing your company’s products or services abroad.
Protecting Against Infringement
Infringement is the unauthorized use of your company’s intellectual property. To protect against this, you must take certain actions to put the world on notice of your rights. This notice can help to deter infringement by making your company’s IP rights more visible to those who might inadvertently violate them. In addition, your company will gain added legal benefits and be placed in a better position to prosecute an infringement in court, if necessary.
If infringement happens, your company’s rights to intellectual property can be enforced in federal court. This will take the expertise and skill of an experienced IP litigation attorney. Working with an attorney who has dealt with IP prosecution will help you determine if litigation is in your company’s best interests and how to effectively litigate the case.
If the case does proceed to trial—and you as the IP owner are successful—there are several available remedies. These include injunctive relief where the infringer is ordered stop what it’s doing. Monetary damages may also be available.
When partnering with an experienced IP attorney, once the owner’s rights are established in federal court, you may have the opportunity to negotiate with the infringer on a license agreement. This will allow them to use the intellectual property for a fee. If handled correctly, licensing IP rights can be quite lucrative. However, on the other hand, infringement claims have also bankrupted successful companies in nearly an instant. In such a critical area of your business, you need to seek the advice of an experienced IP attorney who will help your company establish, profit from, and defend your intellectual property rights.
Get Help from an Experienced IP Attorney
Your company needs to be aware of the importance of protecting intellectual property and guarding against the infringement of others. You also need experienced legal counsel if someone has accused you of infringement. Discuss your IP issues with an experienced intellectual property legal professional like Michael Ahmadshahi.
Michael and his law firm focus on patents, intellectual property, copyright, and trade secrets in Irvine, California. The Ahmadshahi Law Offices are also located in Beverly Hills and Sherman Oaks. Call us toll free at (800) 747-6081 or direct at (949) 260-4997 or email [email protected] and let us help you with your IP questions and the strategy for your company.