7 Steps to Protecting Your Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is extremely valuable and, as such, is protected by both American and international law. While laws are in place, there are also intellectual property practices it is best to follow to ensure that all property remains safe. Here are seven intellectual property practices you must follow through on to keep your IP secure.

  1. Implement robust non-disclosure agreements.Nondisclosure agreements should be your first line of defense for limiting the distribution of protected information. Everyone with access to intellectual property that you want to remain private should be asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement, even if you’re absolutely convinced of their trustworthiness. Not only does this provide you legal protection from intentional breaches, but it also protects you from accidental ones. In addition, the simple the act of signing it reinforces in the mind of others how important your intellectual property is.
  2. Start the patent process early. Get professional help from a patent attorney both for the domestic patent process and, potentially, for the international patent process. A provisional patent allows you to protect your property for up to year while a regular patent is pending. At the end of that year, your patent lawyer must help you obtain regular patent protection or the provisional application will expire. While there are certain criteria that any intellectual property must meet before it can be granted even a provisional patent, it’s a good idea to get an expert in patent law to advise you as soon as possible in order to ensure aggressive protection.
  3. Continually update training and incentives for your employees. When intellectual property is accidentally or inadvertently revealed, employees are almost always to blame. You can help them by continually reminding them of confidentiality policies with training in real-world situations. At the same time, your company is IDR’s can be a real pain to fill out. Providing good incentives to encourage employees to do so is a great way of protecting your intellectual property going forward.
  4. Be careful of your cloud-based systems. Cloud-based systems are great, but good intellectual property practices recognize that they are also a point of vulnerability. On the one hand, cloud-based data storage can be less secure. On the other, using the cloud has made it far more common for people to use their personal devices as well as work devices to access data.

    To address these problems, make sure that any cloud-based data storage you use has robust security measures that both encrypt and fragment your data in the sending, receiving, and storage. Make sure employees are regularly trained about security policies and procedures, especially as regards file sharing.

  5. Encrypt all your data, not just the access to it. It’s not enough to simply have a strong gate. You need to make sure that if someone bursts past that gate, they can’t get access to the goods inside. All your data needs to be encrypted and you should never share any of your intellectual property with any third partner who does not also employ high-level encryption and multifactor authentication to access it.
  6. Make sure everything is thoroughly backed up. Data loss is simply a fact of life. Whether it’s data loss at your own company, at an off-site storage center, or through a cloud-based system, you need to be prepared. Best intellectual property practices demand that you have a strategy. Keep backups secure and in a separate place so that you never lose your original and your backups all in one fell swoop.
  7. Audit regularly. Another important way of implementing best intellectual property practices is to be conducting regular audits of your system. You need to constantly probe for vulnerabilities not only in the code, but also in the infrastructure. Hire verified professionals to do network security audits. Don’t forget to include regular penetration testing to make sure that your system is thoroughly secure.

When trying to protect your intellectual property, legal protections through the patent process and the help of excellent patent attorneys are crucial. But they are not enough. You need to also protect your intellectual property with an overall strategy that addresses not only the legal but also the day-to-day and practical protections you need to keep your intellectual property secure from both intentional and accidental loss.

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