How to Protect your Company’s Intellectual Property

Online security is a big thing these days. You should be able to protect your business from a number of threats not only to protect your website, but also your intellectual property (IP) and provide an excellent user experience. We’ve already written about cybersecurity issues for small and midsize businesses, but the topic is far from covered.

If you have a valuable idea worth protecting, you may be wondering exactly how to go about ensuring your intellectual property remains uninfringed. In this article, we’re going to highlight several methods you can use to protect your company’s intellectual property.

Know your rights and IP law

Knowing how to protect your intellectual property isn’t just a matter of understanding the laws that benefit you, but also understanding the laws that protect things like fair use of copyrighted works. This will help you in deciding whether infringement claims are worth pursuing. For example, did you know that not only are the individual tracks on a music album are protectable under copyright, but the order of arrangement in which the tracks appear?

While it may be tempting to send DMCA takedown notices and threaten legal action against every possible instance of intellectual property infringement, it may not always necessarily be to your advantage. While enormous companies like Disney can certainly handle the negative publicity of being included on lists like “the most aggressive copyright holders”, you’ll have to use your own discretion.

If it’s a secret, don’t file a patent yet

This may sound counterintuitive, but Forbes recommends holding back on filing those patent papers. This is because if your product isn’t ready for market yet, a competitor can use the publicly available blueprint of your patent design to create a similar product, with an altered design.

The best time to file a patent is when your product is ready for market, so that you will actually be first on the market – but still, timing is key. Under US patent law, you must file for patent within one year of your invention being introduced to the public, or your first offer to sell your invention.

Do risk and cost-benefit analysis

Senior CSO (Chief Security Officer) experts recommend mapping out your company’s assets, and then analyzing what sort of information could hurt your company the most in a data theft scenario. With that information, you can better decide where to focus your investments into protection.

Consider IP management software

When it comes to IP management, previous eras relied on attorneys that would produce piles of paperwork, digital files, and enormous spreadsheets that could take countless hours to digest. With modern IP management software, IP teams can access digital documents and evaluate data at a much faster rate, which enables your business to make smarter decisions regarding IP.

Consider who you do business with

In the modern digital age of corporate espionage, data breaches, and online work teams, it’s considered prudent to be mindful of what countries you do business with. A good resource is the annual Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International. While this is mainly indicative of government corruption levels per country, it also helps to know which major countries are most capable (and active) in industrial espionage.

According to a 2018 research paper published by the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), China, Russia, and Iran stand out as the three most active cyber actors in carrying out industrial espionage against US trade secrets and proprietary information. France also leads in industrial espionage amongst European countries.

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