Entrepreneurs may not believe that they have anything worth protecting when they start a new business venture. However, even items such as the name of the company or the name of its product might need protection. This is because the name of the company and its products are often used as the cornerstone of its brand.
When outsourcing work to an independent contractor, it is unwise to assume that the company owns that work because it paid for it. Unless it is specifically stated in a contract, a company may not be able to claim authorship of a blog post or ownership of a video.
Another issue to consider is that a trade secret is only good if it is actually kept a secret. Unless an idea is patented, other companies can use the information relayed to them by start-up business owners to create their own products or implement ideas as their own. Therefore, it is important to be discrete when talking about a new idea to investors or other business owners if they will not agree to signing a nondisclosure agreement.
It is important to protect intellectual property as soon as it is identified. By protecting intellectual property, business owners have the right to market, license and use it as they see fit. In addition, other companies cannot use material that has already been trademarked or copyrighted without committing trademark or copyright infringement. New business owners may wish to contact an attorney to ensure that intellectual property has been properly protected and that it is not unknowingly infringing on any existing copyrights or trademarks.
Source: Reuters, " Keeping Your Intellectual Property Safe and Sound", February 07, 2014