IP, Patents, and Protection of Your Ideas

A vital part of protecting your business’ long term health is to successfully safeguard your intellectual property (IP). This is an area that many find confusing, and rightfully so. The process of protecting one’s ideas seems very straight forward, but there is much deception in the simplicity.

To apply for a patent, one must simply send in an application, and in return will receive an application number. Thus the infamous “patent pending” term that easily becomes attached to just about any product that shows the slightest of innovations. Without a lawyer constantly managing your patent’s case, it is likely that your patent will stall in the process and your application will sit untouched indefinitely.

Further, patent applications require a specific jargon that is quite different than the average business owner’s daily dialect. Very specific language is required to outline the boundaries of your innovation. While many the business owner may find themselves brilliant enough to tackle this on their own, it is suggested that a lawyer at least review the patent application, if not draft one themselves.

Though it is best to allow a lawyer to handle your patent application, it is important that you understand exactly what protections are afforded by a patent. As well as how a patent differs from a trademark or other protections of intellectual property.

  • Patent. A Patent protects the intellectual property of an invention. An invention is a broad term that casts a wide net over innovation. If your project is a brand new entity that has never been seen before, you should apply for a patent. Once again, ask your lawyer if your idea qualifies for a patent.
  • Registered Design. Registered designs are numerous and easy to obtain. Most applications for a registered design enjoy a short review period before becoming approved. Assuming your design is truly unique. However, registered designs are quite limited as they only protect the design of the invention, and not its form or function.
  • Trademark. A trademark protects your brand (e.g. business names, trade names, and logos)
  • Copyright. A copyright protects the unique expression of your idea. This is typically useful for authors and musicians.

Be well educated on exactly what you need to apply for to protect your intellectual property. If you are concerned with protecting your brand long-term, you should file for a trademark. If you intend to publish written or recorded expression of ideas, such as a book or album, you should make sure to copyright the material.

If you have an invention you may need to both register your design and apply for a patent.

It is because of the complex nature of the industry, as well as the oversaturation of the application office, that it is best to contact a patent law professional when seeking to protect your intellectual property.