Have a great business idea? Whatever you do, don’t let it fall into the wrong hands and lose your hard work and innovation to someone else. There are countless scammers, bad actors, and legitimate competition who could steal your idea, along with your revenue if you don’t protect it properly.
When it comes to protecting business ideas, what many business owners fail to prepare for is enforcing ownership of their ideas and content. We have compiled this guide on how to legally protect a business idea, as well as enforce your ownership and stop infringements when they occur.
The first step to legally protect a business idea is fairly straightforward: you want to register ownership of your intellectual property. Intellectual property refers to the ownership of intellectual creations, ideas, and concepts. Common examples of business IP include brand logos and names, inventions, product design, and more.
Having formal registrations for each of your business ideas will help you stop infringements of your intellectual property. There are four distinct types of IP that will protect your business ideas, and it’s important you register them correctly. The four types of intellectual property are copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets.
Copyrights protect original creations. There are many types of content that would fall under copyright protection as it pertains to your business. Blog articles, web content, unique patterns, and graphic designs are all forms of business copyright content you can register.
Copyrights protect your unique business content from being replicated. This means that someone can’t legally make a copy of your creation, whether they go on to sell it or simply copy it for themselves.
While copyright actually applies automatically to the creator, it’s still a good idea to get it registered in order to best protect your copyright content. This will create a record and make it easier to prove your ownership of creations if you have to take down an infringement.
Trademarks protect the content and ideas that help customers distinguish your brand from others. Common business trademark examples include brand names, logos, slogans, and particular product packaging and/or design.
Trademarks, like copyrights, are automatically applied and protect your unique brand identifiers from being used by scammers or competition.
Again, we do recommend you officially register your business trademarks if you want the best protection for your business ideas. Registering your business trademarks allows you the right to take legal action against anyone infringing on your IP and using it for themselves.
Patents protect inventions that may or may not yet exist, and therefore help protect ideas and concepts vs. creations like copyrights and trademarks.
Unlike the former types of intellectual property rights, patents aren’t automatically applied to inventions and require registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Patents are necessary to protect your invention and keep it from being stolen and replicated. To enforce a patent and take down anyone stealing your idea, you’ll need this legal registration in your IP portfolio.
Trade secrets protect the particular processes and information a business uses to operate and succeed. Common examples of trade secrets include recipes, processes used to create or analyze content, and client lists used for sales.
Trade secrets are another type of intellectual property that is automatically granted to the owner. To be considered a trade secret legally, you must ensure the information is:
If someone steals your trade secrets, you have the legal right to enforce your ownership and take legal action against them. This is vital to ensure your competition cannot benefit from your unique business ideas.
Once you have the proper registrations for all of your intellectual property, ensure you keep a detailed record. Developing an IP portfolio will ensure you and the rest of your team knows exactly which of your content is protected. It will also be necessary to prove ownership of your IP if you have to deal with infringements.
Registering your IP will help you claim legal ownership of your business ideas, but it won’t necessarily stop bad actors from stealing your IP anyway. It’s especially easy for scammers to steal your content and business ideas and infringe on your IP online, where counterfeits and brand impersonation is rampant.
To protect a business idea from being stolen, you must be on the lookout for anyone infringing on your content. Monitor for infringements across all of your sales channels, as well as places you don’t currently sell your products or operate your business.
Common places for IP infringements to occur include fake websites, Ecommerce marketplaces like Amazon and Shopify, and social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. To best protect your business ideas and content, it’s important to monitor for infringements on as many of these channels as possible.
If you do notice someone infringing on your intellectual property, enforce your ownership and take it down immediately. If left alone, someone can completely damage your brand reputation and steal your revenue.
One of the most universal ways to enforce ownership of your IP is to send a cease and desist letter to the infringer. This notifies them that they have unlawfully used your protected content and will face legal repercussions if they don’t take down the infringement. It also creates a record for you to use in court if you need to proceed with legal action.
You can also report an infringement to any platforms the stolen content appears on, if applicable. You can report an infringement on Instagram, for example, and other social media platforms, Ecommerce marketplaces, and search engines.
No matter what methods you use to enforce your intellectual property, it’s important to keep following up until the infringement is taken down. If you aren’t successful with these tactics, it’s a good idea to invest in an IP lawyer or brand protection expert.
With the volume of scammers and bad actors online, protecting your business ideas from being stolen can be nearly impossible alone. Employing a brand protection software like Red Points can help you monitor for infringements on the scale you need to properly protect your business ideas.
Red Points software can change the way you enforce your IP by making the process completely automatic. Instead of spending days scouring thousands of sites and platforms yourself, this software keeps a constant monitor for infringements all across the web. It also sends automatic takedown requests when infringements are identified, so you don’t have to waste time writing and sending C&D letters.
There are thousands of scammers, bad actors, and even industry competition out there who can easily steal your intellectual property. It is vital to protect your business ideas and enforce your IP to ensure others aren’t stealing your revenue and profiting off your ideas.
Red Points can help protect your business idea with 24/7 infringement monitoring and automatic takedowns that save you time, stress, and money. Learn more about our services and see how you can protect your business with the most widely used Brand Protection Software.