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Ultimate Guide to Intellectual Property

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Ultimate Guide to Intellectual Property

Published: November 2, 2010 Updated: October 25, 2011

If you have a great business idea, you may want to keep it to yourself until yo;ve had a chance to learn a little about intellectual property laws. To learn how to protect your idea or invention, take a look at the resources below. Whether yo-re looking to protect a trade name or trademark, or wanting to obtain a patent or copyright, this sampling provides the information yo-ll need to get started.

Patents and Copyrights

Protect Your Invention or Product' Patents, Trademarks, and Copyright:

  • According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Offic's stopfakes.gov web site, companies that protect their intellectual property drive more economic growth in the U.S. than any other single sector. The unfortunate flip side is that small businesses are more vulnerable than any other sector to piracy, counterfeiting, and the theft of their intellectual property. If you are self-employed or are a small business owner and need to protect your invention or products, read this article for a summary of the process as well as links to other resources that can help you understand your rights as an inventor.

Need-to-Know Patent Information: The Bottom Line for Small Businesses:

  • If yo've come up with an original idea or invention, be sure to take the necessary steps to protect it with a patent. Use this guide to navigate the steps in a patent application, understand the applicable costs and fees, and identify financial assistance opportunities available for small businesses.

Your Copyright was Stolen - Now What?:

  • Imagine someone else reaping the rewards for your creativity and hard work. Copyright protection is afforded to'original works of authorships' including literary, musical, dramatic other types of intellectual works. Copyright infringement happens when any of these are stolen. Read this article for an understanding of what constitutes copyright infringement and what you will need to do if it happens to you.

Trade Names and Trademarks

Trade Names and Trademarks - What's the Difference?:

  • The laws and terminology associated with trade names and trademarks often lead to misconception and confusion; read this article for help on understanding the differences between the two and the information you will need to know to register your own trade name or trademark.

Trademarks: Legal, Financial, and Tax Points You Need to Know:

  • A trademark is intellectual property that protects your logo, brand, name, or any other type of mark used' but only if you follow the process to obtain legal protection. Before you take the plunge and invest in a website, marketing, or production, read what guest blogger Barbra Weltman says you need to know.

Business Name Protection

Business Name Registration (Doing Business As):

  • If you are using a business name other than your own legal name, you will likely need to register the trade name with your state and/or local government. Whether it's a clever moniker, a family tribute, or something picked at random, your business' name has the ability to frame its identity. Use the Business Name Registration Guide for practical and legal help with selecting a business name, including how to find out if your proposed name is already been taken.

How to Legally Protect Your Business Name at the Local, State, National and International Level:

  • Basic business name registrations offer legal protection at the local or state level. If your business is operating nationally or worldwide, or has the potential to do so, you may want to consider additional protections to safeguard the use of your business name. This brief article will provide you with a summary of the requirements and protections available on a local, state, national, and international level.

Resources for Online Businesses

Register a Domain Name:

  • If you are planning to have a web presence with your business, you should consider registering a domain name. Although the steps are relatively simple, do not underestimate the importance of selecting an appropriate name. Your domain name represents the Internet identity of your business and should take into account some of the important factors highlighted in this article, including tips to help you choose the best name for your business.

Understanding IP Law and How it Can Protect Your Online Business:

  • With the web still a relatively new territory for both entrepreneurs and lawmakers, it can be challenging to follow the evolution of intellectual property laws as they apply to your business. This article provides a basic understanding of intellectual property and whether you can patent, trademark, or copyright your website

Resources for Startup Businesses

Intellectual Property Explained' Protecting and Selling Your Unique Idea!

  • If you've developed a new product, technology or tool that is entirely original, how do you go about making sure your unique idea stays your unique idea, and most importantly, reaps a profit? Take a look at this article for an overview of the intellectual property options available to you, how you can pursue them, as well as some basic tips to get you started in business.

Navigating Business Law on Your Own vs. Hiring a Lawyer' A 101 for Start-Ups

  • From the moment you become a business owner you will be required to navigate a wide variety of legal and regulatory issues. Read this article to help gain a better understanding of the legalities you'll be able to take care of yourself and which ones will require legal assistance.

Additional Resources:

  • StopFakes.gov/SmallBusiness - Intellectual property information specifically for small businesses.
  • 'Inventor's Resources' - Information on patents, trademarks, scams, and the complaints process from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  • U.S. Patent Office - More than just insight into intellectual property law, this site provides guides, tools, FAQs, and more.

About the Author:

Sarah Millican
I'm a digital strategy consultant with ENC Strategy (www.encstrategy.com) and work full-time to support the Small Business Administration in growing and developing this online community to the best that it can be.

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