Why SMEs should get serious about intellectual property

Delaying to file for trademark protection, not studying existing patents correctly, not understanding cyber breaches – these are only a few examples of situations that can affect your business if you fail to handle the entire subject of IP protection. Any issue that revolves around intellectual property could easily lead to a failed business, something you probably want to avoid. Because SMEs usually don’t pay enough attention to this particular matter, focusing on other aspects first, some brands have missed out on developing their promising venture further. Looking into the topic with care, and discovering the risks involved, and how you can avoid them, might clarify why it’s time to get serious about intellectual property:

Having your business idea stolen

When it comes to IP, the first possibility you need to acknowledge is the risk of having your business idea stolen by other companies. As long as you haven’t trademarked your products, other businesses can easily bring into the market the same thing as you, without you having any real power against their actions. Dealing with competition in a successful manner, and protecting your intellectual property is essential if you want to build and maintain a loyal clientele base. Handling trademarking from the start remains one of your business priorities.

Carving a niche

Perhaps you have developed your business around a niche concept that is entirely new –a product consumers haven’t had the chance to see until now, an idea that may bring you the desired success on a local or even international level. How can you make sure you remain a selective option for your customers? By studying your patent and registering it by the book. Carving a niche implies paying attention to every single aspect, and intellectual property protection cannot be neglected here. An authentic, less common product will naturally draw the interest of other entrepreneurs, which means there are certain risks revolving around your patent. Act on time, and you will prevent a niched product from becoming accessible to businesses searching for new ideas.

Legal troubles

You should also understand the legal concerns involved here. If you haven’t exactly studied the matter properly, and your IP activity isn’t on point, you might be faced with different types of legal complications. Perhaps you have introduced a patent that isn’t yours, or on the contrary, you want to fight against a company that has stolen your idea. If you research the topic you will discover that even major brands have faced court time due to intellectual property potholes.

Apple for example has been subjected to infringement claims on VirtNetX’s patents, while Oracle has gained a winning position against Google in a copyright infringement case. Even big companies such as these ones haven’t been able to overcome IP complications, and this shows how important it actually is to adopt proactive intellectual property actions and keep an eye on IP trends.

Facing court time can mean the end of an average SME, considering the high costs and complications involved, so it’s best if you take the right means of precaution from the start.

How to reduce IP risks

There are multiple factors that make IP a relevant subject for small and medium-sized enterprises, and in order to reduce the risks involves, you are recommended to follow a few important steps. As long as you have some guidance here, facing legal complications or having the smooth-going of your business affected will become less of a worry. Here’s how you can reduce IP risks:

Plan ahead

Think about exposure, identify any competitive patents and plan every single aspect ahead. Once you’re already in business, IP concerns should no longer exist, so being thoroughly prepared form the start is advised here.

Study laws, regulations and customs.

If you are planning on going global with your business plan, you will need to properly study international regulations, laws and customs. Perhaps in your current IP strategy is only valid in your country, and for global protection, you will need to take further steps.

Create a paper trail
Being prepared for the worst case scenario can help you avoid a crisis. Create a paper trail and keep track of any discussion you might have had involving your intellectual property. This way, if any court time is needed, you will have furnish evidence.

Have a lawyer at close reach

Whether someone has attempted to steal your idea, or on the contrary, you have been accused of trademark infringement, having a legal specialist by your side, who can guide you throughout a potential legal process, can make all the difference. Because your expertise on the subject is probably limited, you will need someone with extensive knowledge and experience to guide you. Find a lawyer who is qualified in IP law, and make sure to keep them at close reach in the eventuality of any legal problems arising.

These are the factors that you need to understand, when it comes to IP protection. Because there are certain concerns involved, you should adopt the right approach here – you’ll prevent dealing with legal issues later on.