Owners of New Jersey startups will have their plates full as they strive to stake a claim in the marketplace. Protecting intellectual property needs to be high among their priorities. Intellectual property consists of trademarks, patents, copyrights and trade secrets.
Entrepreneurs can think of a trademark as a logo, name, slogan or phrase that identifies a company’s brand. The symbol or phrase distinguishes the product or service and, once established, can provide significant value in the marketplace. Patents refer to official claims upon an invention or technical innovation. By registering a design with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a company can enforce exclusive rights to control and profit from the invention.
With copyright protection, a company or individual registers ownership of a work of authorship, such as a musical composition, software code or book. The owner gains the exclusive right to distribute, sell or reproduce the material or license its use to others. A trade secret labels sensitive information that is crucial to a company’s operation and unique position in the market. Customer lists, formulas and business plans are examples of this type of property.
The unauthorized use of a company’s intellectual property can be extremely damaging to a business regardless of its size or years in operation. It is especially difficult when a business is just starting out. Owners of new businesses may want to meet with an intellectual property attorney at the outset in order to determine how best to protect these types of assets. If infringement is taking place, the attorney may find it advisable to send a cease-and-desist letter prior to initiating litigation.