As the world becomes increasingly connected, as an entrepreneur, you need to hold your business ideas close and guard them more than ever. Intellectual property is the capital that props up entire businesses and even industries, as long as it’s appropriately protected.
While there may be more ways than ever before to damage or take advantage of another’s intellectual property, the same three core protections exist to guard it: trademarks, copyright claims and patents. Trademarking is a baseline claim against the theft of your startup ideas, and can help you start a business on strong footing. Below, we’ll examine the important factors that make trademarking central to protecting your ideas.
What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property, referred to as IP, is an idea that holds value for a person or an organization. This idea can refer to services, products, or even process steps that ease some steps in an organization’s business model. Consider an inventor and their inventions: the creative work that results in the invention, along with the invention itself, are intellectual property of the inventor or the organization they’re partnered with. IP, in layman’s terms, is an insurance policy for business ideas.
As with an insurance policy, the type of protection your idea needs depends on what type of intellectual property it’s classified as.
Types of Intellectual Property
Trademarks, patents, and copyright claims each protect certain types of intellectual property. It’s important to know these guidelines before filing for intellectual property protection (IPP) so that your work is properly protected in the event that another creator or organization tries to lay claim to your ideas.
- Copyrights protect entire original compositions. This can be technical work, like software, physical work, like architectures or sculptures, or intangible art, such as symphonies.
- Patents protect complex, technical inventions. These are popular for manufacturers who produce chemically-derived products like medications, but also for mechanical intellectual property like vehicle or engine design.
- Trademarks protect the words, text, graphics, design elements, and other compositions that differentiate your business idea from competitors.
Existing trademarks are registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, and stored in a searchable database. This is where you can search your trademark ideas to ensure that, before you file one, it won’t encroach on someone else’s pre-existing intellectual property. As long as they’re unique and not previously protected, your brand name, logo design, and promotional or marketing materials are your valuable intellectual property that should be protected from unauthorized duplication.
For more on trademarking your startup idea, check out the visual below that expands on intellectual property and why it’s the twenty-first century’s most important asset.