Protecting your intellectual property in a digital future
The term intellectual property covers a range of creative work that could be considered an asset and is unique to your business. The four main areas of interest are trademarks, copyrights, design rights and any patents you have on your products. If your business is online and your product is related to music, films, art or writing, you’re more likely to be affected by digital theft as these forms of media are so often shared and distributed over the internet. It takes a few seconds to make a copy of a digital file, and as this is usually done anonymously, it can be extremely difficult to trace those responsible for stealing your work.
Of course, illegal copying did exist before the internet became the huge source of information it now is; people recorded their records or tapes to pass on to others,and students plagiarized sections of textbooks to impress their tutors. However, it’s the scale of the current problem that has changed.With such a huge amount of media being distributed by digital means, the potential for exploitation is vast; it can take place on social networks, through peer-to-peer file sharing, or on specially created sites such asBitTorrent. If consumers buy cheaper pirated copies instead of your original material, the problem is manifold; primarily, your company will suffer a loss of revenue, but you’ll also have less to invest in future projects. As a result, your marketplace share may be diminished in the long run.
Part of the solution is providing a healthy, accessible, legal marketplace for consumers, but modern businesses areprotecting their interests in a number of other ways. The first part of the process involves carrying out an intellectual property audit to assess what you have to protect, then registering your trademark, patents and designs.
Domain names are also vital to a business as they give consumers access to your brand and give you a recognizable base from which to present your products or services to the world. Therefore, to protect your reputation and prevent anyone else from capitalizing on your company’s success, you might consider registering your website’s domain name. This gives you rights over the online address your business uses and the ability to renew it when necessary.
Unauthorized copying is against the law, and that means you can take legal action against someone who has stolen your creative work. Bob Bratt is a senior manager at DLA Piper, a global law firm that regularly helps companies take practical steps to safeguard their intellectual property. Their trademark and copyright protection services will identify your authorship and protect your interests in the online marketplace.
As digital sales and online marketing continue to increase, so the threat of intellectual property theft intensifies on a global scale. Unfortunately, nobusiness can completely eradicate the risk of an intellectual property infringement, however proactive their efforts may be. Nevertheless, by taking as many preventative measures as possible and reacting quickly, the risks are certainly reduced.