Why Should My Small Business Protect Its Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (IP) refers the creations of the “mind.” Such creations include literary and artistic works, inventions, designs and symbols, or a name or image used in commerce.

There are laws in place to protect intellectual property; for example, copyrights, trademarks and patents. These laws allow people to earn recognition and financial benefits from their inventions or creations.

The purpose of the IP system is to foster an environment where creativity and innovation can flourish, and the creators of artistic works and inventions can reap the benefits.

Why should I protect my business?

There are indications that copyright piracy, patent infringement, and counterfeiting are significant problems in the business community, and even small businesses are affected.

If a small business exports its IP protected products abroad, or if it obtains its products or parts overseas, it must take into account the possibility of IP theft in other countries.

Small businesses in the U.S. are at a disadvantage because many of the owners lack the knowledge and expertise necessary to prevent IP theft.

According to the Small Business Administration, research conducted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) found that only 15 percent of small businesses are aware that they should file for IP protection abroad.

Many small businesses with overseas operations lack the “eyes and ears” necessary to be vigilant about theft of their ideas and products. In effect, IP theft is goes undetected.

If you are an exporter, or intend to be one in the future, you should learn how to secure protection for your IP in foreign markets. We strongly recommend protecting your rights before doing business in another country.

It is a common practice for foreign manufacturers to copy the products, business plans, or packaging from U.S. companies, even when they haven’t conducted any business abroad. Counterfeiters easily steal from brochures, logos, and even product pictures from a U.S. company’s website. Then, they register the products as their own inventions in their country.

To protect your small business, you should consider seeking trademark and patent protection in a potential market well in advance before you export to foreign markets.

To learn about protecting your small business from IP theft, contact an Orange County business law attorney from The Mirkhan Law Firm, APC.