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Why entrepreneurs need to understand intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) laws provide essential protections for entrepreneurs and businesses owners. They help them protect their unique ideas from theft by others, and therefore, help them protect the value of their business and their work.

That's why it's essential for anyone with an idea for a new product, service or even technique to do their due diligence before moving to the production or marketing stage. If there's already a product similar to the one you're working on, you may have to change your product substantively. You may be able to get permission to license a patent that's already been registered.

Infringing on someone else's IP can be extremely costly, both in money and reputation. That's why it's essential to use some basic IP best practices.

Do an audit to determine whether your IP is already protected by someone else. You can do this yourself or hire an outside professional to conduct the audit.

If no one else has the IP, secure it. This may involve filing a patent application and/or trademark.

Protect your IP by working to ensure confidentiality among the people who need information about it to develop it. This may include people who work in your company as well as outside vendors.

Nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) that prohibit the sharing of confidential information are often used. It's also essential to secure any information and tangible items so that no unauthorized person can see, access or steal them.

Unintentional infringement on someone else's IP can be costly, as we noted. So can someone else's infringement on your IP. That's why it's essential to seek guidance from a Florida attorney experienced in IP issues at the outset of the development of your idea. Once you know that you've got all of your legal bases covered, you can focus on developing your idea and bringing it to fruition.

Source: Healthcare Informatics, "Intellectual Property: Lessons from Shark Tank & Seinfeld," Dave Levin, M.D. and David Hyams, May 23, 2018

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