In starting a new business, there is so much to consider—beginning with the actual structure of your company. Are you forming a traditional corporation, a partnership, or perhaps an LLC with yourself as the sole proprietor? Beyond that, what about your business model? What are you offering to the public and who will you hire to help you on your mission? Are there partners to set up agreements with, along with full-time employees and independent contractors?
From the initial paperwork as you set up your company, to contracts with vendors, a wide range of individuals who may work for you in numerous different capacities, and so much more, there is an overwhelming amount of time and effort that goes into both the creation of and the protection of your new or existing company. And that is something that you must fit in along with daily operations that from the outset can require exceedingly long hours—not to mention the never-ending concerns about capital that may be diminishing and cash flow that must continue to keep the doors open. Required insurance (along with other recommended policies) must be purchased, and you also need to protect yourself in the case of customers being injured on site or employees being hurt on the job.
But what about protecting the very essence of what makes your company so special? From your products and services to inventions and innovative concepts, consider the intellectual property your company possesses today. Although trademarks, service marks, copyrights, and other types of intellectual property are yours as soon as you create it or begin using slogans and logos, that doesn’t mean they could not be easily stolen and used by others!
Consult with an experienced intellectual property attorney to register through the following agencies, giving you true proof of ownership:
- S. Copyright Office – work with your attorney to find out more about how you should send copies of your work to this agency, as well as filling out the required application for approval. You may be able to apply online, unless hard copies are required. Copyrights usually protect artistic expressions of work such as books, screenplays, music, art, and more from infringement. Once you have a copyright for your work (and keep in mind, you can also register a collection of multiple works at once), the registration lasts while you are alive, plus another 70 years after that.
- United States Patent and Trademark Office – here, your attorney will help you apply for the proper licenses for patents, which are good for around 20 years, unless you have a design patent, which is usually good for 14 years. Trademarks (or service marks which are a subcategory of the trademark, allowing for an explanation of what a company does rather than what products it offers) are also applied for through the USPTO, allowing you protect goods and services.
Speak with your attorney about business contracts or partnerships contracts that may involve intellectual property; for instance, how is this divided in the case of one partner (or an independent contractor) leaving—or what if you sell the business altogether? This can get tricky legally, but a skilled intellectual property attorney can discuss your options with you and make sure it is all put in writing.
The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!