Intellectual Property Theft: Ways to Protect your Personal Brand
For a lot of businesses, IP can be more important than their physical assets. This is because IP serves the purpose of protecting your rights towards your ideas and creations. In other words, if you don’t have IP protection, you don’t have a business.
IP consists of four categories; trademarks, patents, copyrights, and trade secrets. If you can’t get a grasp of its context and its importance, let’s take a look at an example:
Nike’s famous swoosh logo is trademarked. If clothing competitors were to produce leggings and use Nike’s logo without their consent, Nike could potentially lose millions of dollars in revenue.
For your personal brand, someone could copy your slogan, follow your exact color scheme and you would be losing out on your market share as customers might not even know the difference. Or worse, if your livelihood depends on the music you produce, someone could upload it on Youtube under your nose and generate ad revenue for themselves.
In this article, we’ll take a look at 3 ways you can protect the future of your brand from intellectual property infringement.
File for Protection
The best way to protect your IP is to actually file for it. Coming back to the previous example, while it is true that you automatically own the copyright to the music you produce, it will be hard to put up a fight in court if you don’t register it. At best, the infringer might receive a cease and desist letter requesting them to put the content down.
However, if you do register it, you could file a lawsuit and claim for damages.
This also rings true for commercial names, logos, and slogans. If you don’t protect it, you technically have no way of preventing other companies from using it. Be sure that you get the right trademark for your brand’s needs.
The protection that common-law, state and federal trademarks receive differ. Whatever the IP category may be, it’s important that you consult a certified legal advisor.
Be Wary of the Tech Your Employees Use
Remote working has become a trend as of late. Despite the safety it offers throughout this pandemic era, there’s the hidden danger of security breaches when your employees access and download files using their own hardware. When they’re working in a cafe and use public wi-fi, for instance, you never know who’s on the other side mirroring their downloads.
Your employees may not have updated their computer software, making them more vulnerable to cybercrime. They could be victims of ransomware in which malware encrypts the victim’s file and demands a sum of money to be paid to an account that’s hard to trace. Valuable data that are protected by your IP can also be stolen, such as trade secrets.
It’s important to educate your employees on the importance of cybersecurity. Request that they use a VPN when using public wi-fi and if possible, sign up for a cloud-based, file server replacement instead of a consumer-grade cloud service like Dropbox.
Filing for patents is one part of the process, but monitoring for any potential IP infringement is another half of it. Thanks to automation, this doesn’t have to be a hands-on job anymore. There are software you can use that scans the Internet for any potential IP infringements against you.
If you prefer more traditional methods, be aware of the advancements in your industry. Look into new companies, see if they offer products suspiciously similar to yours. When in doubt, consult an IP attorney.
The quicker you can act on it, the less you’ll have to lose.