From shoe stripes to dolls to tattoos, ideas can be stolen – and there are feature stories and court documents to prove it.
With its intellectual property (IP) laws, America is leading the way to protect the ideas of people and entities from theft. The US is so serious about the matter that it established two separate government agencies to oversee IP cases: the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Copyright Office. The agencies protect and enforce the legal rights of owners over their creative works, inventions, and designs.
Registering for a patent, copyright, trade secrets, or trademarks can help you protect what’s intellectually yours. But there are also other measures that can solidify your IP protection strategy.
Archive Your Website
There is a higher risk of IP theft on the internet because it is accessible to the public. What’s more, there are software and applications that can easily copy any content uploaded on the web.
If you are running a website that features your works (photos, videos, written content), you can protect your legal rights by retaining records of your online property. It’s smart to invest in website archiving services that take updated snapshots of your web pages and secure them as legal evidence in case of IP theft.
Create an IP Clause in Your Employee Contracts
If you run a business where your employees develop any intellectual property for you or your operations, prevent theft through a contract or an IP clause. The contract should explicitly state that anything your employees create as part of their jobs – graphic designs, articles, engineered structures, new products – is company-owned. The contract binds your employees and other stakeholders to the agreement that they don’t have legal rights over the company’s products or output, which they produced.
Divide a Project into Separate Operations
Another way to protect your product from possible IP violations is by separating operations. For instance, if your company develops artificial intelligence technology, it’s wise to have different teams working on various parts of the project. These teams should have separate duties, so none of them have access to the complete blueprint of the product.
This strategy also works in the food manufacturing industry. For every stage of food production, there should be separate teams or individuals fulfilling each role.
Limit Access to Your IP
Keeping the secret formula of the Krabby Patty in a bottle is not the smartest idea. In real life situations, there should be limited access to critical intellectual property, such as blueprints for an upcoming iPhone model, or the recipe of Coca-Cola. Store the intellectual property in a system that requires at least a two-factor authentication or biometric access control (e.g., fingerprint or facial recognition). Passwords alone are too easy to steal. There should be several layers of protection.
IP laws were passed to protect the ownership of individuals of their personal properties, and to keep exclusive control over their intangible assets. The laws also give these inventors a window to profit from their works, which could potentially benefit the society. If you are securing a top-secret design for a pioneering venture, increase your effort to protect your brainchild.