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4 reasons to work with an attorney to protect intellectual property

An intellectual property lawyer can help a business prevent losses by completing due diligence, choosing the right form of legal protection and securing it.

Intellectual property often ranks among the most valuable assets that a business possesses. Still, many business owners in Fort Collins may consider handling the legal protection of this property without any professional assistance. This decision, unfortunately, can open the door to needless mistakes and serious losses. Business owners should reconsider navigating the process of intellectual property protection alone in light of the following valuable services that an attorney can offer.

1. Choosing optimal protection

To shield intellectual property, businesses may use four forms of protection: trademarks, copyrights, patents and trade secret protection. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, these forms of protection serve the following distinct purposes:

  • Copyrights shield original works of authorship, such as artistic works and computer software.
  • Trademarks protect symbols, designs, words, phrases and other materials that distinguish a service or good from others.
  • Trade secrets and patent protection safeguard inventions or manufacturing processes.

Often, business owners may need to employ a combination of protections to ensure full coverage, or they may need to choose between two options. As an example, trade secrets and patent protection share similarities, but trade secrets protection does not require formal registration or expire. However, this protection lasts only as long as the information in question stays secret, whereas patent protection persists for a set period. An attorney may be able to weigh various factors to assess which forms of protection are most advantageous for a business.

2. Conducting due diligence

Before registering a patent, copyright or trademark, business owners must ascertain that the intellectual property qualifies for protection. By convention, certain items, inventions and processes are ineligible for patent, copyright or trademark protection. Furthermore, business owners must determine that the property is distinct enough from existing intellectual property to be eligible for protection. An attorney may be able to help a person conduct the relevant research and confirm that the copyright, patent or trademark does not infringe on any existing ones.

3. Meeting technical requirements

Business owners must file numerous technical forms to apply for intellectual property protection and to maintain that protection over time. Delayed action or other errors during the filing process can result in the denial or loss of protection. An attorney who has experience in this field may be able to protect a business by ensuring that all deadlines are met and all necessary paperwork is filed properly.

4. Preventing costly losses

The theft of intellectual property financially harms many businesses each year. The National Crime Prevention Council states that over 45 percent of U.S. businesses have reported economic losses stemming from the theft of intellectual property. Working with an attorney can help a person ensure that legal remedies are available in the event of theft, infringement or other intellectual property issues that demand business or commercial litigation.

For further advice, people who possess or work with valuable intellectual property may benefit from discussing this asset and potential means of protection with an attorney. An attorney may be able to help a person understand the available options and evaluate the potential risks of handling intellectual property protection independently.