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Startups should be concerned about intellectual property

Colorado entrepreneurs generally try to get their new business ventures up and running as quickly as possible, but this eagerness to bring products or services to market can sometimes lead to important legal issues being overlooked. While new business owners usually take steps to ensure that their insurance coverage is adequate and all of the permits and licenses they need are in place before opening their doors, they often fail to address the important issue of intellectual property.

Copyrights give authors exclusive rights to publish, reproduce and distribute their original works. Copyrights are secured by publication, but entrepreneurs who wish to fully protect themselves against infringement may be wise to register their works with the U.S. Copyright Office. Litigation over intellectual property can be complex, and courts will not hear copyright lawsuits unless the work involved has been registered. Trademarks protect brand identities, and logos, taglines and slogans can be protected by registering them with state and federal authorities.

Inventions and innovations can be protected by filing patent applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. While patents remain in effect for 20 years, trade secrets are protected for an unlimited time. Trade secrets include customer lists, business plans and formulas. Experts say that entrepreneurs should view intellectual property protection as a form of insurance and not wait until competitors have infringed on their rights to take action.

Attorneys with experience in this area could help entrepreneurs to avoid protracted intellectual property litigation by ensuring that their original works, brand identities, inventions and trade secrets are properly protected. Attorneys could also act swiftly to put a stop to infringement so that potentially costly legal action is not necessary.

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