Protecting Intellectual Property
Protecting Intellectual Property is vital to maintain its competitive advantage. If your innovation has the capacity to make money, competitors will look to imitate that success.
Intellectual property protection prevents low-cost imitators stealing your market. Without protection, having the lowest price can become the major point of competition. Having a patent, trade mark or design is an asset which can be licensed or sold to third parties, or used to help secure finance. It’s also important to understand who own’s your IP as well.
If your idea offers only a short-term return, it may not be worthwhile financially to file a patent, particularly in countries where the technology is unlikely to be exploited. If you decide not to protect your idea by processes such as patent, copyright, design or trade mark, then you could maintain it as a ‘trade secret’.
A trade secret is confidential information that a business does not want its competition to know about. Well known examples of trade secrets include Colonel Sander’s recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the formulation method for Coca-Cola. In these cases, protecting the information by keeping it secret has provided longer protection than patent protection would have.
If you are looking to develop your new idea, then you may have to discuss it with other parties. You need to ensure that these third parties that you are discussing your idea with will not disclose your confidential information. Obtaining a signed confidentiality agreement to not disclose this information is an excellent strategy. Likewise, any business partners, customers, suppliers and employees that may be at risk of exposing your trade secrets should be made aware that the material is confidential and should sign such an agreement.
Physical security measures and use of passwords on computers and photocopiers in the workplace are also options. Implementing procedures that ensure when employees leave your employment they do not remove confidential material and are reminded of their signed confidentiality agreements can also be considered.
If you are considering using a confidentiality agreement but would like some assistance, we are here to help. Contact us for more information for Protecting Intellectual Property.