Companies can protect intellectual property in a variety of ways, such as obtaining formal legal protection, formulating internal protocols, and implementing security measures. Ideally, companies should pursue as many avenues as possible to maximize protection.
Formal Legal Protection
Depending on the form and nature of the IP, companies can apply or register for formal legal protection in one of the following ways:
- Patent Application
- Copyright Registration
- Trademark Registration
These processes establish legally enforceable rights that are protected in a primarily reactive manner. Therefore, whether it is stolen, sold, or directly utilized by a competitor, the holder of a copyright or patent may resort to the legal process in order to rectify any harm imposed if or when IP is compromised. While these are requisite means of preserving IP, they are not preventative measures and are unlikely to deter opportunistic thieves or cutthroat competitors from seizing successful companies’ IP.
Many companies erroneously believe that registering their IP and mandating confidentiality agreements are adequate methods of protection. Although it is important to implement such measures, they really only provide legal recourse in the event of an actual data breach, which can prove costly and time consuming, effectively draining significant company resources.
Another method of legal protection involves companies requiring employees, consultants, prospective investors, and any other parties given access to confidential information to sign certain contracts or agreements. This is a particularly important when dealing with trade secrets because they include such a wide range of confidential business information and are not necessarily afforded legal protection through application or registration. In general, these agreements include:
- Non-Disclosure Agreements
- Confidentiality Agreements
- Codes of Conduct
Implementing Security Measures
Ultimately, it is in companies’ best interests to safeguard IP and other sensitive business documents at the outset by:
- Limiting the distribution of such information to as few individuals as possible
- Regularly monitoring who accesses confidential items
- Imposing restrictions with respect to the viewing and sharing of any such information
Although hackers employ increasingly sophisticated means of intruding upon networks and often cunningly pilfer valuable information without detection, there are solutions with stringent security standards that companies can utilize in order to minimize, and even prevent, such invasions.
Virtual data rooms usually offer security measures, as well as several other sophisticated techniques to conceal and defend sensitive information from unwanted and unauthorized attention. Storing Confidential IP and other proprietary data using a secure solution allows protection through:
- Advanced Encryption
- Two-factor Authentication
- Disabled Printing
- Activity Tracking
IP is an integral, often invaluable, facet of countless industries, so it is wise for companies to invest time and money in diverse and robust measures to protect it. Companies who proactively invest in secure solutions from the beginning will see enormous benefit in the long run.