Small business owners often think that intellectual property law is a field only relevant to multimillion-dollar companies and high-tech firms. However, protecting intellectual property (or “IP” as it is referred to in the legal trade) is even more valuable for smaller companies. Large firms have, by definition, a larger portfolio of assets and investments. By contrast, IP may be the basis for the lion's share of its wealth for a small family business.
IP—THE FAMILY BUSINESS' JEWELS, HIDDEN AND IN PLAIN VIEW
Ask yourself what makes your product or service instantly recognizable. For example,
- Do you have a company name, logo, or slogan that you use on products or promotional material?
- Do you have a unique design when packaging your products?
- Is there anything special about how you produce your goods?
If you have a company name, logo, or slogan you've used commercially, you are well on your way to having IP you can protect by filing for a trademark. But that's just the start: If you're known for including a particular color or design element in your product (like Tiffany's blue boxes and Louboutin's red soles), that may also be trademarked. And if you have an innovative technique for making your product, that, too, may be registered and protected.
You have intellectual property if you've created promotional brochures, flyers, posters, price lists, menus, and any other written material. All of that can potentially be copyrighted.
Another way to protect your family's business is to use non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). From employees to manufacturers and distributors, NDAs may be a great option for you. You can protect everything from client lists to a treasured family recipe with a properly drafted NDA. Note that an off-the-shelf NDA won't achieve this; you want a document tailored to protect your specific IP.
If you have concerns about how to best protect your family business's intellectual property, the Mykyta Law Firm can help. For a free consultation, complete the website contact form or call us at (646) 884-3319.