Intellectual Property and Small Businesses

shopping-cart-joshua stubbinsIntellectual Property is an important legal concept for small business owners. This is especially so because of the internet and the increase of competition between businesses. Here are a few explanations:

Business owners should pursue gaining intellectual property rights for their company.

The Kind Plus bars were one of the highest ranked products at the Natural Products Expo. While the chief executive was proud of this accomplishment, he started to hear some startling news. Someone was imitating the brand image of his products. Prior to this event, the CEO thankfully gained rights to some very important elements of intellectual property. These included the trade dress, trademark, and web addresses that relate to his company name. Items like these are much less expensive than a patent and can be gained without the help of a lawyer. Ultimately, the CEO was able to use these items as proof of his product’s branding. With some follow through, the other company was successfully required to stop their production.

Having a patent does not eliminate the chance of someone releasing a similar product, but increases your ability to fight.

The nature of a patent is that it gives you the ability to keep someone from producing your product. Anyone interested in using the idea must pay a determined amount to the originating company to continue business. In the event that another product was already created without permission from the creators, a patent can be used to take legal action. Cryptography Research was a small company in San Francisco. It noticed that Visa was using technology that they created. After Cryptography merged with a larger company, it used its existing patent to take legal action against Visa. The two companies reached a financial settlement.

To learn more about intellectual property, visit the New York Times here.