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Small Business and Intellectual Property

A small business’s intellectual property (IP), i.e., all its intangible assets, including logos, trade names, designs, inventions and product names, are often not given due consideration by the small business owner.  Just as a business can own a building or inventory it can own IP if it takes the necessary steps to establish and protect its ownership.  IP is vital to many small businesses and it must be managed properly.

Here are some tips to adequately establish, manage and protect your IP:

1.  If you use independent contractors to help create and develop your IP assets, such as logos, names, website content, writings, etc., make sure you have a written agreement that details your full ownership of any assets developed.

2.  Take an inventory of what you use in your business that might be considered IP.

3.  Visit the official websites of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (www.uspto.gov) and the U.S. Copyright Office (www.copyright.gov) where you will find frequently asked questions and valuable resources and information.

4.  Protect your website content, which can be easily pilfered, at a minimum, by putting the world on notice of your ownership of any IP, and include a “terms of use” section that states your ownership.

5.  Find a good lawyer to counsel and assist you in creating, protecting and selling or licensing your IP.