Intellectual Property: China Wants It, You Have It
According to an article I read recently, China is after our IP, especially hi tech IP.
One could think from reading the article that hi tech companies are the only ones who have it, but the truth is that IF YOU ARE IN BUSINESS, YOU HAVE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. I have been saying that ever since i moved to Florida 23 years ago and it is my federally registered trademark slogan.
Every business is not hi tech, most aren’t in fact. But every business depends on IP to protect themselves from competitors. IP consists of four basic ingredients, patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets.
Patents protect useful, new and non-obvious improvements for a maximum of 20 years. A patent gives the owner the right to stop others from making, using or selling the patented thing for the life of the patent. So, if everyone else wants to make, use or sell your patented item, it is an extraordinarily valuable business protection asset.
Most businesses, however, don’t have a patent. No one has a patent on a hamburger, for example, but McDonald’s could not care less. They, and every other patent-less business, protect themselves quite well with the other forms of IP: trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets.
Trademarks are words, symbols and slogans that a business uses to identify and distinguish their hamburger to the consuming public from all the other hamburgers. A federally registered mark lasts only ten years but is renewable every ten years. As a result, the world will have to end before McDonald’s loses their trademark!
Copyrights protect original works of art and authorship, pictures, software, website content, ads etc. A registered copyright lasts the life of the author plus 70 years!
Trade Secrets are anything of competitive value that McDonald’s knows about how to make money selling hamburgers that its competitors would like to know….which is everything they know! The key is to keep your secrets secret and they will last as long as you do so.
In sum, every business, hi tech or otherwise, is competitive and IP is the key to keeping Chinese and other competitors as far away from you as legally possible.
Nevin is a patent attorney and a Florida Board Certified IP specialist with over 40 years of experience.
Call now with questions!