Blood in the Water! Shark Repellant for Businesses!!
By Nevin Shaffer
A commercially successful business attracts competitors like blood in the water attracts sharks. If you don’t want your business eaten alive, you need a shark repellant to keep the sharks away. In fact, you need as many types of shark repellant as you can get!
The good news is, whether you know it or not, your business already has at least three very strong types of shark repellant. If you are in business, you have shark repellant called intellectual property. And you have lots of it! Your business is making money for some reason. Perhaps it is because of those school of hard knocks lessons on how to price your goods or services or the sources you have established for getting you what you need on time and on budget. Maybe it is the customer list you have carefully constructed from all your satisfied customers. These are extraordinarily strong intellectual property shark repellant called “trade secrets”.
Maybe you are making money because of your wonderfully memorable ads, brochures, web site, or jingle. These are a separate type of strong intellectual property shark repellant in the form of copyrights.
Maybe you have a word, symbol or slogan that no one can forget, that serves as a short cut people use to send you their money, and that identifies and distinguishes you from your competitors. Well, these too are very strong intellectual property shark repellants called trademarks and service marks.
Frankly, your success is probably due to a combination of all of these! What you don’t know is which of them, if any, are protectable and worth protecting? The first step in making that determination requires you to identify all of these types of intellectual property shark repellant that your business has. Next, you need to prioritize each of the individual items within those types. Then, you should attempt to maximize the protection of the selected forms of shark repellants.
Maximum protection for trade secrets takes the form of an employment contract that requires employees to keep your trade secretes secret even after they quit or are fired. Trade secrets last as long as you keep them secret. Copyrights are protected to the maximum degree by obtaining a certificate of registration from the US Copyright office. A registered copyright lasts a company 95 to 120 years. A Federal trademark registration issued by the US Trademark Office is the maximum protection available for acceptable trademarks and service marks. A federally registered mark is renewable every ten years” forever!
The creation of each of these types of maximum protection for intellectual property shark repellant makes it easy to identify and defend them as your own and gives you the strongest means to push your competitors away. Further, when you decide to sell your business, a portfolio of signed employment-trade secret agreements, registered copyrights and federal trademark registrations adds significantly to the bottom line because of the investment you made to make these “intangible” assets tangible. For example, hypothetically, you can buy all the capital assets of Coca Cola Company for around $68 billion. That gets you all the trucks, empty bottles, buildings and such. But if you also want the secret formula, ads, and brand too, well, expect to pay a whole lot more for them! Just the registered trademark COCA COLA alone, for example, has been valued at more than $100 Billion dollars!
We all know that competitive sharks are attracted to success. The question your business must ask itself is “When the sharks come, do we have any shark repellant to keep them away?”
Nevin is a licensed patent attorney and Florida Bar Certified Intellectual Property Law Specialist and has been practicing Intellectual Property law for over 28 years. You may contact Nevin by phone at 850-934-4124 and/or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit his website at www.nevinshaffer.com.
This material is presented for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a legal opinion nor relied upon in lieu of specific legal advice. Accordingly, readers who require legal services in connection with their specific circumstances should consult an attorney competent in the field of intellectual property.