Ten Tips on IP Best Practices - Tip 4

April 17, 2014

Top Ten Tips on Intellectual Property Best Practices for Small Businesses

Everyone knows high tech businesses derive most of their value from intellectual property.  However, in our digitized world of information overload, few businesses really know how to “separate the wheat from the chaff.”  The reality is every business can build and sustain a competitive advantage by properly leveraging its intellectual property.  Your legal counsel can add tremendous value to your organization by ensuring proper identification and legal protection for these valuable but intangible assets.  The following is our monthly Top Ten Tip on IP Best Practices for Small Businesses.

Tip #4.  Establish Policies and Procedures.  Policies and procedures provide a roadmap to help navigate around the potholes of IP infringement and IP protection.  Infringement of registered copyrights can result in statutory penalties as high as $150,000.  Policies and procedures should focus on creation and acquisition, use and enforcement of your organization’s IP assets.  For example, if your business depends upon heavily on proprietary information, you may need a non-compete or confidentiality agreement with employees and vendors, or well developed security procedures accompanied by clearly written policies to ensure the information remains confidential.  If your business develops new products or services, your engineers and scientists may need procedures detailing how to document their research to fend off future claims of infringement or theft from a third party.  Consider implementing policies regarding use of trademarks which clearly define how and when such marks can be used.  Consider making camera ready artwork available to ensure consistency in use of trademarks.  You may decide to require that legal counsel review each new use.  It is also advisable to have a written policy prohibiting the use of IP from third parties without written consent of the IP owner.

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