3 Major Tips to Legally Protect Your Business
in the New Year

It can seem overwhelming to consider everything that goes into legally protecting your business – but it doesn’t have to be. We reached out to an expert in the legal field to get three major tips for protecting your business and intellectual property, so you can ensure your business is protected legally in 2023 and beyond.

From Jane Berman of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP:

Small businesses’ intellectual property problems can be avoided or addressed by simple actions.

First– Identify your Intellectual Property (IP).

  • Patents are government grants of the exclusive right to make, use, or sell an invention.
  • Trademarks include brand names, logos, and other designations that identify a producer’s goods or services.
  • Copyrights establish the right to stop others from copying original works.
  • Trade Secrets include information that provide a competitive advantage to a business, such as secret operating procedures, customer data, customer lists, and product preferences.

Second– Protect your.

IP Patentable idea?

  • File a patent application in the S. Patent Office—quickly.
  • Time periods are critical, and a patent lawyer should be involved.
  • Until the application is on file, the safest approach is to treat the idea as a “trade secret.”

Unique business name or logo?

  • Put notices on names and logos.
  • On unregistered marks, use “TM” or “SM”.
  • The registered trademark symbol “®” is only for registered marks.
  • Seek U.S. Trademark Office registration.

Written and artistic works?

  • Mark key copyrightable works with a copyright notice, like: “© 2023 ABC Company.”
  • Use anti-copying markings like “Property of” and “Confidential” on important company
  • Obtain copyrightable materials created by outside vendors.
  • Have employees sign agreements confirming your ownership.

Trade secrets?

  • Require non-disclosure agreements with employees and vendors who access important secrets.

Third– Avoid Infringing Other Parties’ IP.

Trademarks. The first trademark user in a type of business in a given territory has priority, subject to certain limitations. The first user may stop later uses that are likely to create confusion, so it’s wise to be proactive:

  • Conduct searches on your new marks before use:
    • Search the web, and U.S. and state trademark databases.
    • Follow up with a full search from a trademark lawyer.

Patents. Consult a patent lawyer immediately if someone alleges a patent infringement.

Advertisements. Direct copying of advertising text or photographs should be avoided. Watch over the work of employees and vendors to make sure any needed licenses have been obtained.

Please note that this article is not legal advice, and reflects views of the author, not the views of the Taft firm or its clients.

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