Every day, companies unknowingly give up intellectual property and trade secrets which they could have otherwise protected with simple processes. Poor R&D policies may not capture patent rights on a company invention. A faulty or simply outdated employment agreement may not protect a customer list used by an employee who leaves for a competitor. These pitfalls are easily avoidable by implementing measures on the front end and educating employees on the basics of intangible property and how to protect it.
In this webinar, Seyfarth IP and trade secret attorneys provided a basic overview of what types of intellectual property and trade secrets are protectable, how to protect them, and helpful tips to ensure that a company is doing everything they can to avoid common issues associated with intangible property.
As a conclusion to this well-received webinar, we compiled a summary of three takeaways that were discussed during the webinar:
- Businesses routinely miss out on opportunities to protect their valuable intellectual property simply because they do not realize that their inventions or developments qualified as intellectual property in the first place. Particularly in light of changes in patent law that reward the first party to file for a patent – regardless of whether they invented something first or not – it is important to be proactive about applying for patent protection as early as possible. If a business believes that an invention may qualify for either a design or utility patent, it should take steps to start the patent application process as soon as possible.
- Copyright and trademark protection are also an important, and often overlooked, component of intellectual property protection. Trademarks are routinely granted for patterns, brands, logos, trade dress, and other identifying images which businesses may have thought were too generic to qualify for such protection. Copyrights are also becoming an increasingly important tool in protecting computer code.
- Trade secrets are also intellectual property, but are governed by an entirely different set of laws and are protected in different ways, often through litigation. Because the recently-enacted Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 requires the owner of trade secrets to have taken reasonable steps to protect that information, businesses should identify their processes for identifying what information qualifies as a trade secret and what steps they have taken to protect that information, including the implementation of employee confidentiality agreements. Confidentiality agreements drafted before 2016 need to be updated to include certain whistleblower language as a result of the passage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act.
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