If your plans for 2018 include launching a new product or service, you also want to ensure your business assets and trademarks are protected. Your business relies on its intellectual property, which isn’t a tangible asset but is the sine qua non of your operation. Don’t risk your business by failing to perform some basic due diligence.
Essential Steps In Protecting Business Assets
Before launching your new product or service, make sure its ownership is absolutely crystal clear. That’s especially critical if anyone who worked on the project is an independent contractor. The work of company employees should belong to the company, but work done by consultants or independent contractors may fall into a gray area. Get a written agreement from anyone who worked on the project that the product is solely owned by the company and they do not have rights to it. Otherwise, you could someday find yourself in litigation battling with an individual who the court may find has ownership rights to your product or service.
Use the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)’s database to conduct your trademark search. You can see if a mark you are considering is already in use or has an application underway. When you apply to the USPTO for a trademark, expect to wait one month for the office to go through the examination process, and another monthlong waiting period for anyone to challenge the registration. After that, the trademark is yours.
It’s crucial to register your trademark before your product or service is ready to launch. The longer you wait, the greater the risk of trademark infringement. You could end up paying substantial trademark damages – and having to rename or relaunch your product or service – without a registered trademark in place. You could also waste a lot of money printing up labels, brochures and other items connected with a product or service.
Many products or services require patent protection. Patents protect your underlying idea, and give you the exclusive right to a product – or a process. Once your product is patented, you receive patent protection. You can then sue anyone making a profit from your patented item, and potentially receive patent damages.
Keep in mind that patents are time sensitive. The America Invents Act signed on September 16, 2011, switched U.S. right to the patent from the previous “first-to-invent” system to a “first-inventor-to-file” system for patent applications filed on or after March 16, 2013. Therefore, it is extremely important to be working with an experienced patent prosecution attorney.
Do you really know the full value of your business assets, including intellectual property? They are far more than the figures on a balance sheet. If you’re seeking financing for your new project, need a damages expert or otherwise want to value your intangible assets, a valuation specialist is a must. While CPAs can run the figures on tangible assets, such as real estate and equipment, a valuation specialist can work on intangible assets and the overall business enterprise. If your intellectual property is properly valued beforehand, you have a much stronger foundation should you encounter issues with trademark or patent infringement. A valuation specialist may serve as a damages expert witness in such situations.
Trademark Damages Expert
Finally, it’s wise to consult with a trademark damages expert. Your trademark identifies your brand, and any sort of trademark infringement can negatively affect your business and your reputation. Companies such as Rogers DVS provide a gamut of services, including trademark valuations and damages expert witnesses.