Protecting a company's intellectual property is an essential part of preserving both its present and future interests. You probably don't need someone to tell you to do the basic things, such as registering your copyrights, patents, and trademarks. There are plenty of other measures you may have to take, though, so take a look at three of the most necessary ones.
Agreements with Employees, Contractors, and Partner Businesses
An enterprise can rarely operate without every exposing IP to other parties. Employees, contractors, and businesses you partner with will all likely have access to at least some of your intellectual property, including less registration-centric stuff like trade secrets. Key solutions include developing non-disclosure, confidential disclosure, proprietary information, and secrecy agreements.
You don't want to end up litigating these matters after the fact if, for example, a former employee starts their own company using a formula similar to yours. Getting everything down in a signed agreement will show the court that you've provided proper notice of your intent to protect IP. Likewise, it will make clear that specific parties agreed to your stipulations before gaining access.
Be Careful with Joint Ownership of IP
Research and development work often includes more than one company. It's critical that whenever a project is done that one party ends up with a clear claim to the results. If a joint agreement for R&D is required, you may want to explore alternative arrangements, such as buying out the other party's interest or giving them stock options.
Failing to do so may leave you in a situation where the other owner may use and license the protected property. Likewise, joint ownership presents legal challenges because both owners have to be involved in legal actions for them to proceed. If one owner wants to pursue action and the other doesn't, this can provide an effective veto.
Develop a Strong Licensing Regime
Work with a team of intellectual property protection attorneys to put together a license that will be enforceable. It's also a good idea to have your licenses reviewed each year to ensure they'll continue to be enforceable as laws change. This will make it vastly easier to deal with manufacturers, distributors, and third-party licensees.
You also can enforce consistency in the deployment of your IP through license terms. For example, a license can include requirements like the use of specific colors and marks to maintain brand consistency.
For more information, contact an intellectual property protection attorney.