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What types of intellectual property should you protect?

With so much competition in the business world, success often hinges on setting yourself apart. That means protecting what you've worked so hard to build. Pursuing the proper legal protections, however, can be challenging. It's important to leverage the right tools for different types of intellectual property.

Products and processes

If you're in the business of making or selling something - whether a tangible product, a useful process or creative content - you need to safeguard your work from competitors and copycats. You might consider legal protections such as:

  • Copyrights: Unlike patents or trademarks, you don't need to apply for copyrights. This protection automatically applies to original creative works - for example, poems, song lyrics, software, artwork, photographs and much more.
  • Patents: The two main types of patents - design and utility - protect the function, structure, composition and design of an invention. Applying for a patent can be an arduous and complex process.
  • Employment agreements: Trade secrets play a valuable role in any business. You can use employment agreements - including nondisclosure and noncompete agreements - to protect these secrets (and other intellectual property).

It's wise to consult with a business attorney on maximizing these protections. Then, not only will your intellectual property be secure, but you will also have a strong ally in the event of litigation.

Branding and trademarks

Brand recognition is vital to the success of any business. It begins with creating a name, logo and slogan. Of course, it also covers colors, product packaging and more. Registered trademarks are critical for establishing a protected brand identity.

If another company uses your brand or imitates it too closely, you stand to suffer damage to your reputation as well as lost profits. You also risk losing trademark protection altogether.

Protect your brand by keeping trademarks current. Additionally, keep an eye out for potential encroachments on your trademarks, and be prepared to enforce them - including through litigation if necessary.

Technology and cybersecurity

In today's world, technology plays a big role in most business endeavors. Unfortunately, that means you have to worry about a whole new set of risks: hacking, malware, cyberattacks, data breaches and the like. Unauthorized access to your business's computer systems can jeopardize your trade secrets, client lists, confidential information and financial accounts. It can also expose critical systems to viruses.

Protect your profits - and avoid the significant disruptions that come with technology threats - by making cybersecurity a priority.

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Atlanta, GA 30350

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Robert Kaufman has been selected as a 2013 Top Rated Lawyer in ‘Commercial Litigation’ as will be published in the May issue of The American Lawyer & Corporate Counsel magazine.Alex Kaufman has been selected as a 2013 Top Rated Lawyer in ‘Commercial Litigation’ as will be published in the December issue of The American Lawyer & Corporate Counsel magazine.

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