Intellectual Property: Common Misperceptions

Intellectual Property: Common Misperceptions

Opening a new business is a big deal. Along with manufacturing, marketing, selling, paying taxes, and paying employees, there are also legal aspects to consider. When starting a small business legal issues and intellectual property laws are often overlooked or disregarded.  Often this is because people do not understand intellectual property law or disregarded its importance.  To better understand intellectual property law and how it may impact you and your business read these common misconceptions:

It is not worth my time or money to secure intellectual property rights.

You never know what the future holds. You may be working hard to establish your reputation in the marketplace when another company is suddenly offering a similar product with similar packaging, or using a similar logo. If you have not taken the proper steps to protect your product initially, you will have difficulty resolving problems that may arise and it will ultimately cost you more. If you protect yourself early you will have fewer problems later in the event of issues with a competitor or another business.

Many people are under the impression that it costs thousands of dollars to secure a trademark. This is not true. Trademarks and copyrights can be obtained easily and without high costs.

A trademark means my brand is safe.

Registering your trademark adds a layer of protection and puts you in a good position, but you must police your mark and watch to make sure others are not encroaching on your rights.  It is always best to work with someone who is knowledgeable and can help you determine how best to protect your trademark. You should be familiar with your competitors and what they do. Check their website occasionally for any signs of infringement. Routine monitoring is important. Generally, the longer the infringement exists, the harder it is to stop.

You’ve worked hard to establish a unique identity with your business. You should stay aware of infringement possibilities and take action right away when they arise.

If you mail yourself a copy, you are protected.

This is commonly known as a poor man’s copyright or poor man’s patent. Mailing a copy to yourself does not create any rights nor does it protect your rights. The only benefit you may gain is if you save an unopened copy with the US Postal Service stamp it may be used as evidence in a court case as to a specific date by which you had already drafted the contents, but that is about it.

If I have the patent, I will become rich.

This is a common fallacy. You will not instantly make money from obtaining a patent. The patent gives you the right to prohibit someone else from manufacturing or selling the invention that your patent covers. Unless you make the product yourself, license the right to make it to another, sell the patent itself, or successfully sue others that infringe, it will not create value. This is why working with a knowledgeable attorney is important. If you establish a sound intellectual property portfolio you are more likely to build a valuable asset.

I have a registered patent or trademark in the U.S. so I am protected in other countries too.

In most cases you must seek to extend protection to other countries. Deciding whether to extend protection  depends on your business model. It depends on your intellectual property strategy. Are you a manufacturer who wants to eventually make goods in China? Will your product be relevant in Argentina? Some countries offer better protection than others, and the cost varies from place to place. It is wise to seek counsel to conduct research to see if expanding your intellectual property rights makes sense for you.

Trademark and patent law can be confusing. There are many misunderstandings about intellectual property laws and what they can and cannot do. Contact the Law Offices of Jason H. Rosenblum at 718-246-8482. Partner with a firm that knows how to protect you and your business. https://jhrlegal.com/intellectual-property-law/

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