As you form your business, a top priority is protecting it from thieves and copycats. You do this by using such legal tools as copyrights, trademarks, patents and agreements on confidentiality, noncompetition and licensed use.

However, you also need to know what counts as intellectual property to ensure you protect it all. The basic definition is the ownership of expressed ideas, which has a very broad meaning. Missing something vital to your business can cost you down the road.

Your brand

First, you need to claim your name, logo and any slogans you use. These traits are significant in developing brand recognition and strength. Those products and companies that make a powerful impact on consumers tend to rise to royalty above all similar goods and businesses, so you want to prevent competitors from misusing your trademarks.

Your works

One of the most obvious things to protect is the works your business produces, such as:

  • Literature (including online content)
  • Sound recordings
  • Photos and videos
  • Websites
  • Computer programs

These can be the easiest to steal without the proper legal protection (copyright) in place. Note that a simple idea is not secure under the law. You must express that idea through some means for it to be yours and valid of theft protection.

Your trade secrets

Do you use a secret formula, material or technique to create your product? If you have something special you use or do in manufacturing that sets you apart from the competition, it is a trade secret. Legally protecting these secrets is not straightforward, so speak to a business attorney on the best way to ensure the information stays private.

Patents for inventions and processes differ from trade secrets in that they require complete disclosure to the public. You therefore must choose between keeping something a trade secret or protecting it under patent laws. Your lawyer can help you weigh the pros and cons of each option.