Running an online business isn’t that different from a traditional store location, especially when it comes to protecting the intellectual property of the business. It could be written materials, your logo, or product patents, but your items are susceptible to theft by other companies or individuals that want to copy your idea and make their own money. Online businesses, like the one operating at smokethings.com, have to worry about how quickly everything that is said, displayed, or listed for sale is presented to a worldwide audience. You need to take the following steps to protect your intellectual property.
Your business has a name, and more than likely, a logo that makes it easier for customers and clients to recognize your work. Though you don’t have to officially register the trademark in order to be granted legal protection against intellectual theft, registration makes it official that you aren’t using someone else’s logo or name and other companies can’t use yours.
Copyright Important Content
If there are a lot of ideas and content that are unique and original to your business, especially when related to your brand, consider applying for copyright protection. You don’t need to copyright things like listed hours of operation or your company’s contact information, but if you work as a software engineer, journalist, blogger, or graphic design artist, a copyright protects your original content published online.
Look Out for Patent Trolls
New startups in the online realm face increasing threats from patent trolls, regardless of the size and scope of the business. These are companies that make claims about your company’s infringement on their patented material, dragging you to court to win a judgment either for the profit or to simply stifle the competition. The practice is nothing less than extortion.
Secure Legal Advice and Counsel
To protect yourself from the threats of a lawsuit, you should always seek legal advice from a business attorney before letting your online business go live. This is particularly important if your business is going to have a podcast, display personal photos, and play music. You can be accused of copyright infringement or plagiarism if your website uses popular music tracks or noted photographs without getting the right permissions and having to pay royalties. These are complex issues that an attorney can help you navigate.
E-commerce is a profitable way to get into business on your own, but it doesn’t come without challenges. Take steps to protect your intellectual property by securing copyright or trademark protection and making full use of licensing agreements.