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Copyright, Trademark and Trade Secret Fundamentals for a New Business

Starting a new business is a process fraught with excitement and trepidation, especially if you are not familiar with the often intricate and complicated considerations that have to be made from the offset.

The issue of copyright infringement can be particularly daunting, yet it’s something that no business owner can afford to overlook. To make sure your firm gets off the ground without faltering further down the line, here are the basic things you absolutely need to know about intellectual property.

Innate Copyright Rights

Creators across the commercial and artistic spaces are fairly well protected by copyright law without needing to take any action to achieve this.

Be aware that while ideas cannot be protected under current legislation, the way they are expressed is granted a level of automatic protection under national and international laws.

Using photos and images found online which your business has not acquired rights to use and/or using insufficiently licensed software in your business are two common areas where the copyrights of others are infringed by new businesses.

You should also be aware there is varying treatment of ownership of rights under copyright for works created for your business depending on whether a business’ employee or an independent contractor creates it. To make sure your business legally owns what it should it is sensible to get help with copyright law from experts.

Register Trademarks Used in Your Brand

Your brand is the thing that represents your business in public, so it’s important to nurture it effectively. Registering trademarks to go alongside it is a good idea, as this will better enable you to prevent conflicts and customer confusion in future.

Registering trademarks for your business’ name and a logo which will showcase its identity to prospective customers and clients is fairly straightforward. It is worth searching the database of existing trademarks so that you avoid conflicts with others.

One good reason to seek a trademark registration for your business as soon as possible is that it will make it easier to defend your trademark rights and goodwill if it is ever infringed by a third party. The sooner your organisation obtains exclusive trademark rights, the better chance it will have of succeeding.

Sensible Contractual Precautions

Even with the protection provided by copyright law and with the power of a distinctive trademark at your disposal, you still should make it as difficult as possible for anyone to misappropriate and capitalise on your business’ IP.

Placing copyright and trademark notices and information where it can be seen and acknowledged will be worthwhile. Update your website to reflect this and avoid the possibility of any ambiguity over the ownership of your IP.

Requiring employees and anyone who works alongside your business to execute a non-disclosure agreement is another sensible piece of advice. This serves to prevent confidential information and trade secrets from leaking out before you have even brought your products and services to market.

Nonetheless, be prepared for the eventuality that your company’s confidential information may be compromised at some point in the life of your business. Equipping yourself to fight back through contractual non-disclosure and non-misuse obligations is a good precaution.

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