When you’ve worked hard to build your intellectual property (IP), you’ll want to prevent others from profiting from it without your consent. While some intellectual property rights are automatically granted, it is your responsibility to actively defend your work. Nobody will investigate into copyright or trademark infringement on your behalf.
Register the Necessary Intellectual Property Protection
Registering your work provides the most protection. You make your claim public, deterring many (but not all) others from utilizing your work without permission.
Trademark registration grants you the right to use the R sign, giving your claim validity. A symbol on your unregistered trademark notifies the public of your claim, but it provides no legal support.
You have the right to use the patent pending label if you have a patent or a provisional patent application. Many individuals may be discouraged from inventing a product that they would not be able to use for long.
Registering your copyright protects your ability to sue infringers and recover damages and attorney’s costs if your claim is successful.
You must also ensure that your protection is maintained. Pick a strong brand and record your initial usage so that you can defend it in court if required. Renew your trademark on time, use it continually, and save the documentation that proves it.
If you begin selling or otherwise publicizing your innovation before applying for patent protection, keep in mind that you must submit your patent application within one year after disclosure and be the first to file, or you will lose the right to protection. To protect your rights, consider filing a provisional patent application first.
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Apply for Foreign Registration
If you want to promote your idea in other nations, you should look into registering your intellectual property in those countries. The United States has various treaties and conventions in place that make it simpler for inhabitants of the United States to register patents and trademarks in several countries with a single application. You must still abide by the rules of each nation. As an example:
Several nations require you to apply for patent protection within one year after revealing your innovation.
Several nations require you to apply for patent protection before releasing your new product to the public.
Several nations require you to add more than just the an or R sign in your trademark.
Numerous other nations have agreements with the US to recognize your copyright registration. If the nation you’re interested in doesn’t, find out what it takes to register.
Keep it hidden
Some intellectual property is best safeguarded by being silent. Limit the amount of individuals you inform about your work if it is not patentable or if you choose to protect it under trade secrets legislation. Sign non-disclosure agreements with prospective partners or investors wherever feasible. Make it clear what information is private and how long it must be kept hidden.
Even after submitting a patent application, depending on the circumstances, you may wish to restrict further disclosure since protection legally begins only when the USPTO awards your patent.
Keep an eye on your marketplace.
Statutes and registrations provide legal recourse once your work has been misused, but they do not prevent your work from being stolen in the first place. Some individuals may be unaware that the legislation exists. Some are unconcerned. Even a comprehensive patent or trademark search may overlook anything.
As a result, it is your responsibility to keep an eye on your industry:
Keep an eye out for new items and firms, and take notice of the visuals and language in their branding.
Set up Internet search alerts, such as Google alerts, to get email notifications when terms or phrases related to your job are referenced online.
If your trademark is very valuable, you may consider hiring a trademark search service to monitor it. Thomson CompuMark, for example, will search local and worldwide trademark and domain registrations.
Be wary of trademark dilution. You risk losing your claim to your mark if you allow it to become a common phrase rather than a brand. For example, the term “zipper” was formerly trademarked but has now evolved into a product category rather than a brand.
Examine items that are similar to yours, as well as their patent filings, to see whether they infringe on your patent.
Protect Your Rights If They Are Infringed
Take action if you discover instances of infringement. You have numerous possibilities depending on the scenario, including:
Write a cease and desist letter to the infringement, instructing them to stop utilizing your work. You can email it yourself, but having your lawyer send it will have the maximum effect.
Submit a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notification for Internet copyright infringement.
Get a court injunction to prevent a patent infringing from continuing to manufacture or sell the product.
Bring a lawsuit. Depending on your circumstances, you may have to consider if you have a strong enough case to justify the expense and time.
An expert intellectual property attorney can assist you in determining which safeguards are appropriate for you and in defending your rights.