Every entrepreneur needs to learn how to protect their intellectual property. It’s a subject that many business owners fail to think about, but from sole-trading plumbers to marketing companies, every business has ideas that are worth safeguarding. The safeguards to put in place may alter very slightly from industry to industry, but there are some factors that stay the same.

The first two things to do when protecting ideas apply across the board:

    1. Determine value

      The first step in protecting a thing is always acknowledging why it needs protection. In terms of intellectual property, its value to your business is best set out in financial terms. Knowing its financial worth will also help you determine how much to invest in protecting it.

    2. Know the law

      Many intellectual property disputes result from confusion about the law. There are also many cases where thieves get away with their theft because their opponents are simply ignorant of their rights. A smart business owner can protect themselves by knowing the law. Is your business idea protected by common law, or do you need to register it? Begin with copyright and trademarks and expand your research from there.

These first two points are the surest way to safeguard your intellectual property. However, there are additional steps you can take:

  1. Don’t advertise

    The best way to protect an idea is to keep it to yourself. While it’s important to test ideas before running with them, it’s equally important to ensure your ideas are solidly protected before you reveal them.

  2. Record the intellectual property in some concrete way

    In the vast majority of cases, intellectual property claims need to be supported by physical evidence. Novels need to be written before they can be copyrighted. Machines need to be built. Writing down your idea or creating a model can provide some protection.

  3. Actively protect your rights

    In the digital age, intellectual property theft is all too common. Unfortunately, it’s up to the owner to provide protection. Regular internet searches are particularly useful for detecting any written intellectual property theft, but they can also be helpful when safeguarding images. A secure computer network is also essential. When you detect theft, hunt the perpetrator down and don’t be afraid to seek legal advice.

As a business owner, your ideas are your path to profit. Protect your intellectual property.