Most people think of intellectual property only as something that should be protected from others.
It is clear that when you invent something great, or write a thrilling new book, or shoot an awesome new movie, that you would want to protect your work from being used against your wish.
Most people and companies, however, are not this fortunate, and do not really create enough to want to hire a lawyer to protect what they’ve created.
This is one of the reasons why many businesses don’t think that they need to consult an IP lawyer. Their thinking goes like this: “Well, we don’t really create anything, and even if we do, it’s not enough to justify spending thousands and thousands of dollars to try to protect it.”
They may be right, but this approach misses a very serious point. IP is not only what you have to protect against others, it’s also something that others can use against you.
If you are a dentist, you may be interested in registering a trademark for your business, but really there is unlikely to be much more beyond that in terms of using IP as a tool of competitive advantage. But if you have a popular website that promotes your practice, you want to make sure that you own every little bit of content on that website.
What you don’t want to happen one day when your business finally makes it, is to find out that someone wants a piece of your pie, simply because you’ve been using their IP for several years to promote your business.
This is the difference between using IP as a sword (to obtain a tool of competitive advantage) and using IP as a shield (to make sure that nobody can lay a claim on your business).
Few businesses will need to use IP as a sword, but most of them are using IP created by somebody else.
If you don’t take care of IP as a shield, you will be sorry if your business becomes successful.
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Tags:CollectivismPhilosophySmall BusinessNew Copyright ActFair Dealing