Developing a competitive advantage as a business owner in today’s market is incredibly difficult. With such fierce competition, you need to do everything you can to keep your edge. This includes protecting your intellectual property. If you don’t, it may end up being stolen by your competitors. To make sure you are the one who benefits from your hard work, you must protect your IP.
Register for Protection
The first step you need to take to protect your intellectual property is to register it for protection from the federal government. This can be done through the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the US Copyright Office. Patents are intellectual property in regards to original inventions that prevent others from making or selling those inventions. Trademarks are words, phrases, or symbols that are used to represent a company or its products. A copyright is an original work such as a piece of writing, a film, a song, a cartoon, or more. Copyrights do not technically need to be registered with the government to be protected. However, doing so is often a very wise choice and will offer an extra layer of protection if you need to take action against intellectual property thieves.
Detect and Stop Corporate Espionage
Unfortunately, simply registering your intellectual property may not be enough. Corporate espionage is a real thing that plagues many different industries. Many companies, including some of the largest in the world, stoop to Stalinist tier spying tactics to steal the competitive advantages of their competitors. Even if you’re a new company, you may not be safe from spying efforts especially if you do believe you have a new and fresh approach to your industry. That fresh approach may not last long if your competitors can steal it before you even launch your first marketing campaign. In this case, taking steps such as performing a TSCM bug sweep may be needed. TSCM stands for technical surveillance countermeasures. These are steps taken to detect and stop corporate espionage such as the detection of bugs recording audio or video that may have been hidden in your offices by your competitors.
Use Non-Disclosure, Confidentiality, and Proprietary Information Agreements
Another huge risk to your intellectual property is your employees. While you may hope you could trust all your employees, this is a naive standpoint. While they may act as part of your team during their employment, they may end up leaving your company at some point and bringing much of their knowledge regarding your company secrets with them to their new employers. Headhunting strategies launched by competitors often have the goal to siphon off knowledge about a competitor into their firm. Overall, you must protect yourself by including non-disclosure agreements, confidentiality agreements, proprietary information agreements, and more in each employee contract. These agreements must have extremely harsh penalties if they are broken during and even after employment.
Protect Your Network from Hackers and Intruders
Of course, a lot of corporate spying is not done traditionally anymore. Instead, some companies go through intermediaries that do the extremely shady practice of hiring hackers to steal the information they want for them. Many of the largest companies in the world have all been hacked in this manner, and it’s often extremely hard for investigators to even determine where these attacks truly originated from. Overall, while you can’t stop hacking attempts from happening, you can make them unsuccessful by investing a good deal in cyber security measures designed to block intrusions and stop data breaches before they even happen. Cyber security is worth every penny you spend on it.
Invest in Other Security Measures
Despite the prevalence of hackers, some corporate spies will still stoop to performing espionage the old-fashioned way by trying to enter the factories, offices, or other facilities of competitors. To guard against this threat, invest in physical human security, an alarm system, video camera surveillance, and more. You should know exactly who is in your buildings at any given time and why. No one who isn’t trustworthy should be in your factories, offices, or headquarters at any time.
It isn’t only your physical assets you must protect. Your intellectual property is just as important in regards to protecting your company’s long-term competitive advantages. Do whatever you can to protect your IP. Without it, all your hard work will end up benefiting your competitors instead of your bottom line.