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Three legal tools that can help protect your intellectual property

Entrepreneurs with unique ideas or innovations are wise to take steps to protect their work. There are a number of methods available that can help to better ensure a competitor does not steal your ideas.

The United States Small Business Administration reports that three of the more commonly used tools are patents, copyrights and trademarks.

Option #1: The patent

Patents are useful for inventions. These legal tools can protect against others "making, using, or selling the invention throughout the U.S."

Different types of patents are available based on your needs. Some serve to protect new machines, others for designs and still others for varieties of plants.

Option #2: Copyrights

Copyrights are tools that help protect unpublished or published works. This can include pieces of literature and other works of art like movies and songs. Some forms of computer software and architecture can also fall within the protections of trademarks.

Option #3: Trademarks

Trademarks work best for a "word, phrase, symbol or design that identifies the source of the goods of one party and distinguishes them from others." This mark does not have to registered, but should include a TM designation to show others that the mark is your property.

Do you need a lawyer?

Determining the right legal tool to protect your business interests can be difficult. These are just three options that can reduce the risk of misappropriation. Contact an experienced intellectual property lawyer to discuss the legal tools that will work best to protect your business interests 

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