As a small business owner in Minnesota, it’s important to recognize that your intellectual property (IP) rights may be among your most valuable assets. If you haven’t taken steps to register a trademark or a copyright, you should take some time to understand how these protections can safeguard your small business and support its future success. Here’s a brief description of the various IP rights available to you and how you can begin putting these protections into place.
Defining Intellectual Property
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), intellectual property refers to “creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names, and images used in commerce.” Copyright law protects the expression of ideas, while trademark law protects the name and branding of your company and its creations. The process or new approach to solving a problem or completing a task are protected under patent law. The main goal of IP law is to encourage creativity and innovation while offering protection and control over one’s works and inventions.
IP for Small Business Owners in Minnesota
Many small business owners may assume that IP rights are only relevant to larger companies and corporations. However, taking steps to protect your IP rights in the early stages of launching your business can help you remain competitive and profitable. By registering your copyright or trademark, you can defend your creations against competitors who may attempt to capitalize on your ideas or goodwill.
Registration is optional, though. You own a copyright the moment you create a copyrightable work — a short story, content for your website, a photograph or video or piece of art, for example — regardless of whether you register the copyright. But if someone infringes on your copyright by copying your work or using it without your permission, you won’t be able to sue them until you secure that registration through the United States Copyright Office. And if you register your copyright before the infringement, you may have access to better remedies that will make it easier to enforce your rights, such as statutory damages and attorneys’ fees.
Trademarks are similar. If you build an image around a trade name or logo, you have rights to protect against a competitor using a similar name or logo to confuse consumers even if you don’t register. But registering the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) puts everyone on notice that the name and logo are already being used and gives you more tools to protect against infringers.
So registration isn’t required, but should you discover that another party is infringing on your intellectual property rights, you’ll be able to make a stronger case against the other party if you’ve secured those IP protections.
Learn more about protecting your IP rights in Minneapolis and St. Paul by calling Rubric Legal LLC today at (612) 465-0074.