In the modern business world, information is power — and your intellectual property (IP) is the key to your company’s success. The standard trifecta when it comes to protecting your intellectual property has long been the same: Patents, copyrights and trademarks.
What if that isn’t really the best way to do it? Experts have suggested that many companies need to take a new approach.
Tips for protecting your IP in a modern world
Anything you can create, someone else will happily copy — if they can get away with it and make a few bucks in the process. To protect your IP, here are some tips:
- Forget the patent. Coca-Cola never got a patent for its famously secret recipe. Why? Because a patent is only good for 20 years and then the information becomes public.
- Separate your workforce. Coca-Cola also famously guards its secret recipe by giving only half the formula to any one person at a time (while keeping the written formula under lock and key). If you keep all of the information about a project or idea divided between your key teams, it’s much harder for anybody to steal from you.
- Go for sole ownership. You can share ownership of an idea or a creation with someone else — but that’s bound to lead to problems. Sole ownership eliminates the potential for many problems in the future, and it also limits leaks.
- Use non-disclosure agreements. Non-compete clauses are controversial (at best) and illegal in some jurisdictions, but NDAs that prohibit someone from telling or selling your company’s secrets can usually be upheld.
These aren’t your only options when it comes to protecting your intellectual property rights. The more you understand your legal options, the better you can make the law work for you — and protect your company’s future.