When it comes to protecting intellectual property (IP), there are several methods that everyone’s heard about. Sure, everyone knows about getting a trademark, copyright and patent protection for your business, products and inventions; however, is this enough? Moreover, does this provide you with the type of protection that you need or do some of the methods in this system have flaws that you’re completely unaware of? This is a question that isn’t that easy to give an answer to and here are six things that you need to know on this subject in order to keep your brand safe.
1. Filing a patent is a two-edged sword
The first thing that no one ever talks about is the fact that filing a patent may be a horrible way for you to protect your intellectual property. You see, in order to legally protect something you’ve invented, you usually have to fully describe it, often including materials (even parts of the manufacturing process) in this description. The problem is that your competitors can figure out a way how to emulate this, with enough difference not to violate your patent. In other words, you would be handing them this idea on a platter.
2. Keep manufacturing processes separated
Another thing you could try out is split your manufacturing process into several parts, so that no one, apart from you and several other confidential people, knows how it’s all put together. This is similar to a model that KFC has been using for decades and it’s worked like a charm. Keeping things on a need-to-know basis is far from simple but it’s sometimes quite necessary. Sure, this will make your infrastructure more complex and more expensive but if a secret recipe is your strongest asset, it’s definitely worth it.
3. Check for availability of the URL in question
The next thing you need to keep an eye out for is whether the domain name that you’re looking for is actually available. If the answer is yes, you have to proceed with your domain name registration as soon as possible, in order not to see the name taken before your very eyes. Having a domain name that is different from your brand name is confusing and, seeing as how the domain name is pivotal for your online presence (which is pivotal for your success), some businesses even choose a business name based on this. In other words, they look for the URL first, register second and then register a business after that name third. A bit odd model, yet, it definitely works.
4. Avoiding joint operations
Earlier on, we’ve mentioned the idea that you should split your production into parts, however, this doesn’t mean teaming up with outsiders and providing them with the patent. Think about it, it’s completely fine to have them produce a vital component in the process but the company that you’re outsourcing a part of your manufacturing to probably shouldn’t know the entire process. On the other hand, there are some who suggest that avoiding joint operations altogether is a bad idea and an accident just waiting to happen.
5. Improved authentication
A password system is deeply flawed, especially if more people have accounts with access to your sensitive data. This is why your business needs to invest in a multi-step verification process, as soon as possible. The simplest forms are two-step or two-factor verifications. One method of how this is done is that you have a password, as well as a code delivered to your email or smartphone (via an SMS) that you need to enter in order to gain access. With the advancement in the field of biometrics, this idea may even be taken one step further in the nearest future.
6. Non-disclosure agreements save your IP
Finally, some people just know how to stay quiet, whereas others need a strong incentive, usually in the form of repercussions that will follow if they don’t. This is where non-disclosure agreements become so important. Just bear in mind that, in order to be legally binding, your non-disclosure agreements need to be well-composed. You need to avoid ambiguities and terms that are too broad (which would make them open for interpretation), as well as signed by a person without enough authority. This is why you need to include a legal expert in this process.
At the end of the day, the truth remains that you can never be too careful, which is why it’s usually smart to use as many methods as possible in order to make your system fool-proof. As you can see from what’s been listed above, there’s so much you can do.