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4 Tools To Use For Protecting Intellectual Property

A major part of developing intellectual property is making sure it will be defensible. Fortunately, there are many tools for doing the job. Consider using these four tools the next time you have a concern about defending your IP.


These are the usual suspects you're probably familiar with. Patents are handy for protecting your claim to new products and processes. Copyrights can be used to protect fixed media, including many types of manuals that are attached to patentable items. Trademarks can be used to defend the brands you will build around your IP.

Patents have the shortest lives, providing only a couple of decades of protection. Copyrights providing longer support, and when properly managed, they can provide nearly a century of defense. Trademarks have the longest protection and last as long as you maintain them.

Notably, the lifetime of these IP tools is inversely proportional to its power. Trademarks may last a while, but they're tied very closely to your brand and not much else. Patents are much stronger, but they expire and become available to everybody. However, intellectual property protection attorneys will encourage you to use all three to defend your rights and interests.

Trade Secrets

The distinct formulas, methods, and combined efforts that are employed to make your products or deploy your services may be considered trade secrets. Notably, you have to prove a trade secret provides value to your business for it to be defensible. It also has to be something distinct from what anyone else offers. The classic idea of a trade secret is the formula that's used to make Coca-Cola.

Legal Notices

It's also a good idea to place legal notices alongside every use of your IP. The most typical are the © and ® symbols that accompany copyrights and trademarks. Longer printed notices can be attached to explain things like licensing and usage rights, too. These are frequently integrated into end-user agreements to ensure that people and companies that purchase versions of your IP have entered into contracts accepting its existence and your rights.

Employee and Contractor Agreements

Intellectual property protection attorneys also frequently have their clients provide agreements to the folks who do their work. If an employee or a contractor does work on a project, this ensures that they will cede any claims they have to the IP. Agreements also usually prevent them from using their related knowledge in the employ of a competitor for a certain number of years.

If you have more questions, reach out to an intellectual property protection attorney.