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Intellectual Property Insights from Fishman Stewart
Mini Article – Volume 23, Issue 22

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Happy Small Business Saturday!

By Kristyn Webb

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, innovation is the lifeblood of small enterprises. Small businesses often generate groundbreaking ideas and inventive solutions that set them apart from the competition. However, amid the excitement of creating something new, it’s crucial to consider how to protect your intellectual property assets. 

Why is IP Protection Crucial for Small Businesses?

1. Preserving InnovationsYour unique ideas and creations are your business’s essence. IP protection ensures that your innovations are safeguarded, preventing others from replicating or profiting from your hard work.

2. Building Credibility: Having IP protection enhances your business’s credibility and demonstrates your commitment to innovation. It adds value to your brand, making it more attractive to investors, partners, and customers.

3. Securing InvestmentsInvestors are often more likely to invest in businesses that have protected their intangible assets. IP protection provides a sense of security, assuring investors that their investment is safeguarded from potential copycats and counterfeiters.

4. Preventing and Prevailing in Litigation: By securing your IP rights, you may reduce the risk of legal disputes related to intellectual property infringement. Legal battles can be financially draining and time-consuming, especially for small businesses. Where litigation is necessary to enforce your rights, having proper IP protection and registrations can enhance your chances of success in obtaining a favorable outcome. 

5. Creating Revenue Streams: IP protection enables you to license your innovations to others, creating additional revenue streams. Licensing agreements can be a lucrative way for small businesses to monetize their inventions and expand their market reach.

How Can Small Businesses Protect Their IP?

Patents: Patent your inventions to protect new and useful processes, machines, products, or compositions of matter.

Trademarks: Register your brand name, logo, or slogan as trademarks to distinguish your products or services from others in the market. Federal registrations may be recorded with customs and border protection agencies in various countries to prevent the import and export of counterfeit goods. Clearance searches may help you avoid the pains of rebranding.

Copyrights: Copyright law protects your original literary, artistic, or musical works to prevent unauthorized reproduction or distribution. Often, registration with the US Copyright Office is required to bring an infringement lawsuit in federal court. The newly created Copyright Claims Board offers a cost-effective venue for smaller claims.

Trade Secrets: Safeguard confidential business information, such as formulas, processes, or customer lists, by implementing strict confidentiality agreements.

Regular Audits: Periodically review and update your IP portfolio to ensure all new innovations are adequately protected and update your employment agreements to reflect any changes in the law.

We understand the challenges faced by small businesses, and we encourage you to take proactive measures to protect your intellectual property. By doing so, you are not only securing your future but also contributing to the growth and innovation of your industry.

Stay innovative, stay protected!
Kristyn Webb is the Group Leader of Fishman Stewart’s Copyright Practice Group, and is currently earning a Master’s Degree in Copyright Law at King’s College London.

Published December 1st, 2023

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