How can Oregon businesses protect their intellectual property?

A business’ ideas, products and brand may make or break it, which is why it is important that people protect their intellectual property from theft.

Business names, logos, ideas and innovations, among other things, may set Oregon companies apart from their competitors. Such works and inventions resulting from the creativity of people's minds may be considered the intellectual property of the creators. Keeping others from using their ideas and copying their products may be essential to people maintaining the integrity of their brand and retaining their competitive edge. Therefore, it may be important for business owners to protect their intellectual property using copyrights, patents and trademarks.

Copyrights

Original works of authorship may be protected through copyrights. This includes artistic, dramatic, literary and musical works. Sometimes, others may take such works and display, copy, distribute, modify or perform them in an effort to profit for themselves.

The moment such works are created, they are automatically under copyright protection. Some may choose to take the additional step of registering their works. In addition to making the work a matter of public record, this action also grants the creator the right to take legal action in the event of perceived copyright infringement. Consequently, no one else may use the protected artistic work without first obtaining permission from its creator.

Patents


Often, people come up with improved or new designs, machines, processes, plants and other manufactured items. Whether they are using their inventions personally or they choose to somehow profit from them, once others seem them, they may also seek to cash in.

Issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, U.S. patents offer intellectual property protection for non-obvious, useful and new inventions. New patent protections last for a period of 20 years from the date when the application was filed. They allow the inventors, or patentees, the right to take legal action if they find others making, using, offering for sale or selling their inventions without approval.

Trademarks

In business, brand recognition may be vital. People often recognize specific products based on words, names, symbols or designs. In an effort to cash in on another's success, some may seek to mimic these marks in order to confuse or trick consumers. Creating similar logos or using like colors may allow one company to suggest their product is that of another.

To prevent this type of unfair competition and protect their intellectual property, business owners may obtain trademarks to safeguard the devices, symbols, names, words and other marks used to distinguish their companies as the source of their goods. In order to qualify for this type of protection, the mark must be distinctive and it must be in use in commerce.

Seeking legal guidance

Protecting their intellectual properties may be an essential step for business owners, artists and innovators throughout Oregon and elsewhere. Understanding which safeguard option is best and navigating the legal process of obtaining that protection is not always straight forward, however. Therefore, those who have formulated new business ideas, developed new products and otherwise innovated may benefit from consulting with a legal representative.