You have an extraordinary business thought and need time to carry it to fulfillment. Meanwhile, you might think about how to secure a business thought and guarantee your future achievement. Lamentably, many neglect to make sensible strides in shielding a business thought from contenders and lose their privileges, even as the first maker.
There are a number of ways to legally protect your business ideas. The best option for you depends on the type of idea and what you want to do with it. Reviewing all options with a business law attorney to protect your business ideas ensures you make the right choices moving forward.
FEDERAL OR STATE REGISTRATION
When you’re thinking about how to protect an idea for a business, one of the first things you are likely to consider is officially registering your idea with the appropriate federal or state office. Consequently, registration falls into three main categories: patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Each of these categories provides different types of protection and for different lengths of time.
A patent is a property right granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The title of patent holder entitles you to exclude others from using, making, or selling your invention for some time. The USPTO provides information on how to patent a business idea.
There are three different types of patents: utility, design, and plant.
Utility patents protect the way an invention functions, and design patents protect the way an invention looks. Therefore, Plant patents can protect invented or discovered asexually reproduced plants. Design patents last for 15 years from the date of the grant, while utility and plant patents last for 20 years.
in addition, Consult with a qualified business law attorney to discuss how to patent a business idea. Patent registration is costly and requires considerable time. A business law attorney ensures you file for the correct patent and eliminates delays through their knowledge of the patent application process.
Copyright represents a collection of rights granted to an individual upon creation of an original work. Copyright provides answers to the question of how to legally protect a business idea. Copyrights include the following:
The right to reproduce the work,
- The right to prepare derivative works,
- Right to distribute copies,
- The right to perform the work publicly, and
- Right to display the work publicly.
A copyright grants you, the owner, the right to assign, license, or transfer the copyright to others. Additionally, the power of copyright permits the owner to choose the way the public views your work.
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods. In addition, a service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies or distinguishes a service’s source. Therefore, Examples of trademarks include slogans, brand names, and brand logos. Acquiring the rights to a trademark does not require registration. The first and continuous use of a trademark in commerce establishes your rights. However, registering a trademark does provide additional protections. Therefore, you may decide to register your trademark with the USPTO, your state, or both, depending on the type of protection you need.
A non-disclosure agreement may serve as an effective protective measure if you plan to work with others on your idea. A non-disclosure agreement, or NDA, operates as an agreement between parties not to disclose your idea or share information with third parties. Also, a qualified business attorney may draft an NDA with no expiration date, thereby providing you even stronger protection.
NON-COMPETE AND NON-SOLICITATION AGREEMENTS
A non-compete agreement operates similarly to an NDA, but it serves to prevent someone from starting a business similar to yours. Also, a non-solicitation agreement may work in conjunction with a non-compete agreement to prevent someone from stealing your employees or clients.
Typically, non-compete agreements have to be limited in time, scope, and location. For example, if your company sells tires in a small town, it would be difficult to enforce an agreement that prevented someone from selling tires anywhere in the country for the rest of their lives. However, the agreement may prevent someone from starting a competing tire business for five years within a 30-mile radius of your business.
Work-for-hire agreements can allow you to get help with your idea without giving up your rights. In a work-for-hire agreement, you hire someone to work for you to analyze and improve your idea. Anything these individuals come up with to perfect your idea becomes yours. If you file a patent, someone you hire will identify as a co-inventor on your patent. Despite this title, they own no rights to the patent.