Protect Your Business Ideas

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Protect Your Business Ideas

Got an innovative business idea that you'd like to keep as your own? Every day, entrepreneurs just like you come up with brilliant business ideas that they want to protect, but don't know where or how to get started. 

Defining idea ownership, or "intellectual property" 

This legal term refers to any original idea, knowledge or concept that has never been introduced by anyone else in the past. This can be a new product idea, a unique process, or a concept that you are introducing to the market. It can also be a new brand, name or business tagline. 

While it can be easy to protect tangible business assets with insurance, there are other steps to take for protecting intellectual property from your competitors that you need to be aware of. These most often involve trademarks, copyrights, and patents. 

Steps for Protecting Business Ideas

1.      Research the new idea or concept before launching it. There may be a chance that your idea is not brand new and that you may need to be careful not to infringe on another business's patent for an idea. Consult with a patent or copyright lawyer who specializes in researching databases of trade ideas and names.

2.      Legally establish your ownership and rights to use the idea openly in the market. This means filing the proper trademark, copyright or patent paperwork to the courts for approval. Make sure to have your documentation that you have already researched this to speed up the process. Have the court retain an official record of this approval.

3.       Publish your idea in an industry recognized format online and in a print journal or other publication. This can involve writing a case history of your idea, how it's new and improved, and who was responsible for developing this idea. Give all key team members public credit for their portion of the idea, with a plan to share this with your business network.

4.       Display all representations of your idea with the industry recognized symbol, based on your legal documentation. For example, a copyrighted idea will include a © as well as the date, the name of your company, plus a statement of your right to use this idea for your business purposes.

5.       Maintain all records of initial ideas along with enhancements and updates. This is especially important if you are in the business of frequently updating technology or research products. Having a history and recording - this is important for those who will run your company years after you leave.

If you choose to come up with an idea to improve an existing product or process that is not your own, then you will need to purchase the rights from the owner to use and make modifications to it first. Never attempt to steal another's idea, even if it's an old one and you think it's past the legally recognized time passage from its creation. Protecting your business ideas should be the number one priority because a competitor can easily swoop in and use it if you don't take the above steps.

About the Author: 

Jennifer Motian works in patent sales. She’s been consulting businesses for over 10 years.


Allen Jerome Granados said...

Oh god that post hit home for me. I wasted a year and a half chasing so many different ideas that I spread myself too thing. Those with an entrepreneurial mindset find it hard to stick to one thing – and I still do – but I have to keep reminding myself to stick to one thing at a time. Otherwise I’d get no where. This post is a nice reminder for me to stay on track – but wish I had read it years ago :)

Rajiv said...

Allen, I am happy that the post had actually helped you. I try my best to get posts and articles that will be of some help to onlookers.

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