Actions taken to safeguard intellectual property have become increasingly important to protect the interests of individuals and businesses engaged in intellectual disciplines, particularly those in research and development.
Great significance has been placed on protecting such assets due to the rising number of intellectual property infringements reported in recent years. There are those who, given the opportunity, will steal ideas to use them as their own or destroy such property to set competitors back. Intellectual property could be in the form of a tangible note pad or a digital document stored on a flash drive. No matter the form of information, it should be protected from unauthorized eyes.
Types of IP Protection
Intellectual property (IP) protection has been categorized into four areas: trade secrets, trademarks, patents and copyrights. Trade secrets provide protection of confidential information, like client and customer lists, specific formulas and related plans of an organization. Trademarks help to protect IP that distinguishes a business or brand, such as emblems, designs and logos. Patents are designed to provide exclusive rights and protection over processes, business methods and other innovations. Lastly, copyright protection focuses on original and creative works of authorship, such as literature, film and photography.
The protection of IP should be a priority for nearly every company, but especially those engaged in research and development. A great deal of time, money and effort goes into the development of new ideas and innovations, and without proper protection in place, companies may not be able to reap the full benefits of their inventions.
At the state level, Illinois has consistently ranked among the top 10 states for patent output for the last 50 years, while Peoria has been home to many great inventors since the Industrial Revolution. In fact, patents in Peoria County date back as early as 1883. Patents filed in the county in the late 1800s were for many different applications, such as making beer and spirits, canned foods and fencing products.
Locals may be familiar with the history of the Ag Lab, which was authorized for the commercial mass production of penicillin in the 1940s. Thanks to intellectual property rights, this was one of the greatest advancements in civilization: first, life-saving medicine for wounded soldiers in World War II, and still a go-to antibiotic today.
Why Protect Your Property?
There are three primary reasons to protect your intellectual property. These include:
- Loss of income. Your ideas are unique. They have the potential to make you—or someone else—money.
- Loss of reputation. If your property is stolen and used inappropriately, or if you are somehow attached to the negative work of the imposter, you may find it difficult to defend your reputation.
- Devalued asset. Unique IP is worth more than a product with any number of different versions or variations. IP that is left unprotected risks being duplicated. You may find yourself defending its value, or even worse, your ownership.
Over time, the U.S. Patent Office has approved over eight million patents, and the U.S. Copyright Office has awarded more than 33.6 million copyrights. The scale of these figures is a clear indication that awareness of intellectual property theft is increasing, and individuals and companies are well informed about the possible losses that can result in case of failure to take necessary precautions. iBi
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