Intellectual property (IP) refers to any non-tangible assets your business owns. Any IP you have requires safeguarding because it comes from creative and innovative thinking, unique to your company. The last thing you want is your IP to fall into the hands of someone who can use it to damage your business or steal your market share. For that reason, protecting your intellectual property should be a priority. You need to develop a strong plan for how you will do this and then ensure everyone is on board with that plan.
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1. Invest in an IP management software
IP management software is a must-have when developing a protection system for your IP. This technology will help you organize, track, store, and manage your IP. The software can help you to centralize your management system, ensure proper logging and organizing, identify issues or potential problems, automate the workflow process involving IP, and allow for a secure way to store ideas.
One excellent option that offers high-quality IP management is Dennemeyer. Providers like these allow you to conduct regular IP audits and reduce waste, making your property more effective.
You can also use IP management software to educate your employees about IP and the importance of safeguarding it. Furthermore, it will help you with regulatory compliance because you will have all the information you need in one setup. The detailed record-keeping options aid with this. Overall, it provides an organization that is difficult to recreate on your own.
2. Be cautious about filing patents
A patent offers significant protection and remains the standard, but your information becomes public once you file for a patent. Anyone can tap into your patent information and work on recreating your product in a way that would not violate your patent protection.
Forbes cautions that you should be careful about filing for a patent until absolutely necessary. You can start by clarifying that this is your product and you are using it. Make it public that you have this IP and how you are using it. By performing this process, you control the information and ensure the public never has enough information to duplicate your product.
You can also try other options for protection, such as a digital rights management system or a trade secret registration.
3. Use Invention Disclosure Records
As you develop your IP, use Invention Disclosure Record (IDR). IDR gives you an inside account of the IP from start to finish. Everyone that works on the project contributes to the IDR, so you know what is happening every step of the way.
There are two reasons you want to use IDR. First, it gives you a record of who knows about the IP. Second, it sets you up for securing a patent because you have all the details and information you need in one place to file a patent application.
4. Organize work into divisions
If you have concerns within your company about the security of your IP, then break it into parts and have different divisions work on each of the various components. No one division will have the whole IP, so there is little risk of someone leaking the information or otherwise stealing the idea.
This tip is as much about effective workforce management as it is about protecting the IP. You will get multiple benefits from developing your property this way.
5. Have safeguards in place
You cannot rely on one thing to protect your IP. You need multiple safeguards in place. Start by ensuring you have robust storage plans. Never use just a password to safeguard information. Always use two-factor identification for access to IP information. Bio options, such as fingerprints or face scans, are also excellent choices.
Ensure that you encrypt the data before sharing anything involving your IP. Never send it over an unsecured network. Also, limit administrative rights. Only vital people should ever even know about the IP.
6. Use strong agreements
If you work with IP a lot, you need to have non-disclosure agreements for anyone who works for or with you. When drawing up your agreements, make sure to go through an attorney, preferably one with an IP background.
A good NDA is not only going to keep people quiet, but if someone slips or purposefully releases any IP information, you will have solid grounds upon which to pursue them for damages legally. However, a well-written NDA will communicate clearly that the person should keep IP information secret and never tell anyone about what they learn when working with your company.
7. Keep your employees educated and happy
Happy employees are loyal employees. Treating them right and ensuring they have a high level of job satisfaction reduces the risk of someone leaving the company and selling off your secret information or blabbing it to the world. Ensure you consistently check in with employees and address issues as soon as they come up.
Make policies clear and give them a good home/work balance. These things help avoid fatigue, which could lead to accidental revelations of information. Most disclosures of confidential information are by mistake by someone who isn’t paying attention. Make sure they love their job, but that they also have time for a life outside work.
8. Audit often
You need to be on top of your intellectual property at all times, so consistently run audits to check what IP you have and how far along it is. Do checks of protections, look for weaknesses, and make changes as soon as you notice issues.
9. Have a clear IP policy
Employees who do not understand your IP policy are a risk. These workers can accidentally say something to the wrong person and jeopardize your company without even realizing it. To prevent such an issue, make sure you are clear on every detail of interaction with IP and confidentiality.
Protecting your intellectual property is essential. You cannot be weak in this area, or you risk a lot. Your company could fail with the right information leak, so you cannot afford to ignore proper IP management and safeguarding.