Protect the Intellectual Property in Your Business

In today's digital age, intellectual property is threatened more than ever. Across the Internet, business ideas and concepts are at increased risk of threat from hackers and other unscrupulous types. While business owners are familiar with protecting their physical property and their assets, many may not realize the value of protecting their intellectual property as well. Even companies that deal in products rather than ideas likely own intellectual property that needs to be safeguarded. After all, many of the products we enjoy and rely on today came about through conceptualization of someone's great ideas. It is those core concepts and the associated technology that both entrepreneurs and established companies need to protect.

Intellectual Property Definitions

Even the most successful enterprise might not have a clear idea of precisely what intellectual property comprises. Fortunately, it is not difficult to understand. Intellectual property exists in two categories: industrial property and copyright or artistic property. The industrial category typically includes inventions, industrial designs, trademarked technology and similar concepts. The second category includes written works, images, art, broadcast programs, scientific publications and much more. Essentially, almost any business-related concept or any type of inside information could represent intellectual property, even notes jotted on a napkin at a business lunch. If it originates from an individual, company, organization or other entity, the property could be at risk. Some of the common types of intellectual property the unscrupulous might target include patents, trademarks and copyrights.

Who Would Target Intellectual Property?

The FBI's website contains a lot of information about how intellectual property might be at risk. It may surprise many to learn that some foreign nations may even engage in the theft of such property. With so much data streaming across the globe, it behooves all contemporary organizations to consider the following entities as viable threats to intellectual property:

  • Organized crime members
  • Foreign and domestic industry rivals
  • Foreign and domestic start-ups
  • Foreign spies or intelligence operatives
  • Disgruntled current or former employees
  • Opportunists who might want to sell intellectual property

What to Do if a Threat Is Suspected

Of course, contacting law enforcement is a critical step if a threat is suspected or if it has already occurred. Another option is to speak with an attorney who has experience and knowledge about intellectual property protection. However, the best thing a person or company can do is to put preventive measures in place before a threat even exists. By taking a proactive approach early in the business, it is possible to avoid such threats altogether. This kind of approach can include frequent reviews of security measures, avoid sharing elements of trade secrets across the Internet, use firewalls and other security software, implement security policies and train all personnel accordingly. Administrators and top-level staff members should also take care to safeguard all computer hardware and devices that may contain data such as laptops and tablets.

The possible theft of intellectual property is frightening, but you can set your mind at ease by taking security seriously. If you need help identifying and safeguarding your company's trade secrets and concepts, consider speaking with a skilled intellectual property attorney who can work with you to apply the stringent protection you need to keep your intellectual property safe.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

Additional Intellectual Property Law Articles

Search LawInfo's Intellectual Property Law Resources