As a new small business owner, intellectual property management can be one of the most challenging things to manage. If you're just getting started, you're probably starting with a very small team and the intellectual property that got you into business to begin with. When it comes to controlling your trademarks, copyrights, and other intellectual property, it's important that you either have a clear understanding of the intellectual property laws or have a patent attorney in your corner who can help you. Here are two common mistakes and tips to help you avoid them.
Not Defining Ownership
When it comes to determining the legal ownership rights of intellectual property, such as product concepts, patents and designs, you typically don't have to look any further than the original creator. There are some situations in which this isn't the case, though. In some instances, such as when you hire a contractor to develop the product or concept, you'll have to legally determine who will hold those rights. The best way to do that is with a clear project contract. Make sure the contract details who will retain the rights through the commission of the contractor's services. If you don't do this, you may give the contractor the legal opportunity to claim the rights to your company's intellectual property, because he or she created it or helped to develop it.
Committing Right-Click Theft
Technology has grown rapidly, and with it, the images and information accessible has multiplied. Unfortunately, many people assume that because the information is accessible online, it's legally acceptable to be used. It's a common misconception – even large companies have been guilty of it. The truth is, just because you can right-click an image and save it doesn't mean that you're legally allowed to use it. Whether you do your marketing and design yourself or you hire a team to do it, this type of behavior may potentially lead to copyright infringement or licensing violation charges. Don't ever use any images that you don't have the legal rights to.
If you want the best chance of avoiding this type of hazard hire a graphic designer to design all of your marketing materials, product packaging and brand identification as custom creations. Then, you'll have all of the rights to your material and you can be confident that everything associated with your brand is unique.
With so many things to be concerned about, it's a good idea to retain the services of a patent attorney (such as one from Kaufhold & Dix Patent Law) as well. He or she can help you answer questions about the current laws and your best practices.