Intellectual property – a term first coined in the 19th century – is defined as “a work or invention that is
the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or a design, to which one has rights and for which one may
apply for a patent, copyright, trademark, etc.” In the simplest of terms, intellectual property is an
original idea that can be granted ownership to its originator, and therefore is entitled to protection by
law. Intellectual property can refer to intangible creations of the mind, from inventions to literary and
artistic works to symbols, names and images used across business and commerce. During the 20 th
century, the term intellectual property became a commonplace term used and accepted around the
globe – but in today’s digital age, intellectual property is facing challenges at the global level that
threaten the very principles it seeks to protect.
So what can Americans do to protect their intellectual property assets? Intellectual property law exists
to do just that – and grants and protects legal rights to such creative works and inventions. The purpose
of intellectual property law is to allow the people who create and invent things to profit from their work.
But in the age of start-ups, e-commerce, and social media, intellectual property is more vulnerable than
ever before. The digital landscape has created serious competition in the tech and start up world and is
mostly driven by a “get to market with an MVP (minimally viable product) now, worry about IP later”
philosophy. But American companies of all sizes need to take measures to prioritize their IP protocols in
order to set them up for success, and ensure they are protecting the very products, services and ideas
that will bring them success.
Even if a business doesn’t have the capital to invest in a robust IP protocol, there are important steps
that can – and must – be taken to protect your IP assets. And in today’s DIY digital ecosystem, the tools
to take the steps to protect your intellectual property without hiring a team of legal experts are readily
All businesses need to start with getting smart about intellectual property. There are a myriad of
resources online to help get you educated on the basics around copyrights, patents, trademarks and
trade secrets. Conducting an internal audit to identify all your registered and unregistered trademarks
and copyrights can be one of the most efficient ways to springboard your IP protection protocol
Regarding patents, websites like https://patents.google.com/ can save significant time and money, and
enable companies to do the preliminary due diligence on their own for patents. Expedite your patent
filing efforts, as submitting your patent application can essentially give you 12 months to expand your
Even if a company may not have the resources to secure IP law support on a retainer basis, consider
leveraging legal expertise to craft your non-disclosure agreement, along with other contracts such as
employment agreements, sales contracts, licenses and technology transfer agreements – all of these are
important fundamental components of your intellectual property.
Regardless of your company’s size and resources, protecting your intellectual property is as important as
the products and services you offer. Making it easy for others to steal your intellectual property can be
detrimental to your business’ success.