Intellectual property (IP) protection is essential for any company whose business is dependent on the unique nature of the products or services they offer. Failure to put proper protection in place puts a company at risk of the product or service being offered by a competitor, their market reducing, their revenue reducing and, ultimately, their demise.
Here are a few simple ways that an organization can avoid foreign intellectual property threats:
1 – Copyright registration and patent applications
Registering copyright and applying for patents should be number one of any organization’s list of things to do to secure IP (and that’s why it’s number one on this list!).
Instructing a firm with special knowledge of intellectual property law (such as Heer Law, who are based in Toronto), is the first step in ensuring that you have recourse when your IP is stolen.
The timing of copyright registrations and patent applications can be critical, so employing an agent with specific knowledge of these areas will pay dividends.
2 – Insure against the risk
Companies don’t think twice about insurance to cover all sorts of risk: Fire, theft…even loss of key people. However, many don’t consider insuring against intellectual property theft.
Intellectual property insurance exists primarily to cover the costs of both initiating and defending against claims:
- If the company initiates a claim against a third party infringing on their IP, the legal costs of bringing that claim will be covered and the policy may also cover loss of profits.
- If the company has to defend a claim that it has infringed on a third party’s IP rights, the legal costs of defending that claim will be covered and the policy may also cover the claimant’s loss of profits etc.
3 – Security, security, security
As the title suggests, it’s difficult to emphasise the importance of effective security enough! It’s especially to consider the strength and efficacy of your security procedures when venturing into international markets.
Stringent security measures not only protect against breaches in the first place but also expedite the identification of breaches when they do occur. Organizations should consider:
- Data encryption for any and all information transmitted from within the organization
- Physical security at locations where IP is developed and/or stored
- Locking down workstation USB ports to limit the use of personal devices, such as cellphones and flash drives
- Regularly reviewing the employees, contractors and partners who have access to IP
- Conducting background checks on personnel with access to IP and routinely reviewing those checks
4 – Utilizing contracts
Contracts offer a way for an organization to protect their IP by entering into contractual agreements with employees, contractors, partners, retailers and all manner of other stakeholders.
Contracts drawn-up in order to offer such protection might include:
- Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) – to ensure that third parties are legally bound to keep any IP confidential
- Ownership clauses – to clearly define who the owner of any IP is
Following these simple steps will minimize the threats from both domestic and foreign parties but IP protection must be regularly reviewed in order to ensure it remains effective.