How to protect your intellectual property from your employer? Here’s the answer to your query!

As your new product development comes to light, your first thought may be to let the world know about it. While shouting your success from the rooftops seems quite appealing, but before you jump into this, you are required to consider how to protect what you have worked so hard to develop.

Most employees are appointed to build a brand’s image, create products, develop new markets, enhance productivity through technologies, and innovate the existing process. With these investments in employees, employers often think that they own the intellectual property initiated by their employees within the period of their employment.

However, it is important to understand that the product or a design created by an employee is the IP (Intellectual property) of an employee, not an employer. How to protect your intellectual property from your employer if you have been a part of it? Let’s figure out some effective tips and tricks.

intellectual property
Source: investopedia

Let’s first look at what we have in the guide!

  • What is intellectual property?
    • Trademark
    • Patents
    • Copyright
    • Designs
  • How to protect your intellectual property from your employer?
    • Register for Trademark, Copyrights, and Patent
    • Bring Innovations
    • Arranging evidence
    • Get the infringers punished
    • Deny joint IP ownership
    • Create awareness about IP among your employees
  • Consult an IP expert

What is intellectual property?

Any novel virtual creation of a human mind is referred to as intellectual property. This includes inventions like software, logos, designs, content, or name. Intellectual property includes every intangible asset. Similar to tangible business assets, IP also needs to be protected. If you own a business, then you must monitor and secure your IPs from breaches. Intellectual property rights are generally divided into 4 categories:

  • Trademark
  • Patent
  • Copyright
  • Design

The US Patent and Trademark Office defines how these categories work and everything that you should know about them. Similarly, the US Copyright Office can help you know more about them.  To have a brief intro to all these categories, keep reading. 

What is intellectual property
Source: legalzoom

Trademark

Your symbols, names, and phrases are said to be your trademark that creates a distinct image of a certain business. These trademarks should be distinctive enough to differentiate a business from others in the market and compelling enough to attract customers and promote the company’s products and services.

For instance: names, symbols, phrases, logos, sound, colors, and everything that represents your company and the products and services that they come from.

Patents

Patents are the technical inventions that make your business unique and differentiate your services from others in the market. Through patent rights, you can prevent your assets from others from using them for selling, making replicas, or using them for any purpose without your consent.

Examples:

  • Design patents: Are for the manufactured and designed products
  • Utility patents: Are for tangible assets like devices, machines, composite materials, new, and used inventory.
  • Plant patents: Are for every variety of plants.

Copyright

Copyright legal rights grant you protection against the idea that expresses your services. It permits you to produce, distribute, copy, display, reproduce, and provide a license to work legally.

Examples:

  • Architectural designs
  • Books
  • Databases
  • Software
  • Sound and Video Recording
  • Graphic arts
how-to-protect-a-business-idea
Source: investopedia

Designs

In cases where you design the outer appearance of a product, you have certain rights against those designs such as packaging and shapes. However, if your design rights are breached, you would have a burden of proof that the design was your own creation.

For example, formulas, techniques, the process of creation, and everything that is intangible.

Everything that is initiated by your business in terms of tangible and intangible assets, and associated with your business is your company’s intellectual property. Now that you know what intellectual property is and its categories, let’s see how to protect them from breaches.

How to protect your intellectual property from your employer?

Many companies look over legal authorities whenever they want to protect their assets. Pursuing legal measures is of course important when you want to ensure that your IP is protected. However, if your IP has not gone through the process of patent and trademark, it remains vulnerable to theft. This is because some IPs cannot be trademarked. The ideas which are not truly functional or the ones that are not fully developed for instance.  Here are some tips to ensure that your IP is protected.

Register for Trademark, Copyrights, and Patent

Registering your IP at the government level can provide you protection against threats and infringements. Registering R&D operations and core management using IP rights keeps you in a better position for making counterclaims.

Register for Trademark, Copyrights, and Patent
Source: copyrighted

Bring Innovations

Copying ideas from big industries is also a major problem. This explains why every company needs evolution in creativity. If you manage to have continuous innovation loops, your rivals would never get your footsteps.

Arranging evidence

Examples are there where companies take ideas from the leaks and while patenting they bear a burden of proof. Whenever you bring innovations in your business or possession, keep updating your proofs to prove that you are the rightful owner. This can be achieved by keeping a log of evidence for every evolution which may include documents or drawings and drafts.

Get the infringers punished

Set security for your patent and trademark. Once you encounter a data breach or the violation of rights, ensure that the infringers get penalties according to the damage a business has incurred.

Deny joint IP ownership

It will always be beneficial for you to keep your secrets to yourself. Escape from joint IP rights as you may not know when your partnership would end and you would face ramifications down the road.

Create awareness about IP among your employees
Source: copyrighted

Create awareness about IP among your employees

Training employees will help to protect your sensitive data breaches. But training should be tailored to some of the specific workers who need to have access to the secret data. Scientists or engineers involved in the management of your products must need to pay attention while you speak about concrete terminologies while training.

Most of the time due to lack of knowledge and protection or incompetence handling, IP gets leaked through mistakes. Make sure that you are working with mindful workers who avoid revealing IPs even unintentionally.

Consult an IP expert

For more deep knowledge about protecting your IP and securing your information from breaches, consult an IP expert for help. He will help you with licensing and searches and make sure that your IP is secure.

Any investment that you do in protecting your IP cannot be spent either on marketing, manufacturing, or any other related function so consider why you are spending money on it.

Several reasons can satisfy your answer, which includes bringing revenue to your business, defending your IP, licensing it, or securing your assets from someone who wants to damage your reputation.

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