One of the most important assets of a start-up business is its intellectual property (IP). It is important for business owners to take steps to safeguard it, which can feel like an overwhelming prospect. The first step is to understand the different types of IP that can be protected:
- Copyrights. A copyright can protect an artist’s work or the expressions of an author. It is important to understand that a copyright can protect things such as software, photographs and music. If work has been copyrighted, it cannot be copied by other parties.
- Trademarks. Any name, symbol or device that indicates the source of a particular product or service can be trademarked. A trademark provides protection that prevents other parties from using your mark (or a confusingly similar mark) to sell its products or services. To learn more about trademarks, please read our blog titled “Important Benefits of Trade Secret Protection.”
- Patents. Unique inventions, processes and machines can be protected with a patent. If you obtain a patent, it prevents other parties from making or selling your invention.
- Trade secrets. Information such as a formula, technique, method or process that has been kept a secret and has monetary value because it is not known by the public can be a trade secret. An example of a trade secret is KFC’s “secret recipe” for its chicken.
With the exception of a trademark, once you have obtained one of the above types of protection, you can freely share the information with other parties. However, you may still want to use a non-disclosure agreement, especially if your copyright, trademark or patent has not been finalized. It is essential to seek professional assistance in drafting a NDA because this type of contract is only as good as the agreement itself and courts often strictly construe NDA’s.
The Swenson Law Firm is located in Sacramento County and we proudly serve businesses of all sizes from all over the State of California. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you with matters such as trademarks, defending lawsuits, business formation, contract negotiations, hiring employees, and protecting your intellectual property. With our years of complex business trial and litigation experience, we are an effective, efficient and affordable choice in representing you at the bargaining table and in the courtroom.