By Tony Armstrong
People often ask me “how do I protect my idea?” There are many ways to do so – the important thing is to do it. Probably best to consult your attorney but here are two of the more ‘popular’ categories of intellectual property:
- Patents When you register your invention with the government—a process that can take more than a year—you gain the legal right to exclude anyone else from manufacturing or marketing it. Patents cover tangible things. They can also be registered in foreign countries, to help keep international competitors from finding out what your company is doing. Once you hold a patent, others can apply to license your product. Patents can last for 20 years.
- Trademarks A trademark is a name, phrase, sound or symbol used in association with services or products. It often connects a brand with a level of quality on which companies build a reputation. Trademark protection lasts for 10 years after registration and can be renewed “in perpetuity”. But trademarks don’t have to be registered. If a company creates a symbol or name it wishes to use exclusively, it can simply attach the TM symbol. This effectively marks the territory and gives the company room to prosecute if other companies attempt to use the same symbol for their own purposes.