As a business owner, your knowledge will become vast over the years regarding many different subjects. Not only will you be required to understand every nuance about the products and services you are selling, how to fight the competition, and how to manage your finances, but you will also need to understand how to deal with labor law, employees, benefits, partnerships, commercial real estate and insurance, and so much more. But along with all these items, you will also need to protect intangible items, like intellectual property.
While it may seem complex—and indeed it is—registering for and maintaining your intellectual property is a must, along with ensuring that you have proper agreements signed with employees and independent contractors regarding non-disclosure and confidentiality. Whether you have copyrights, trademarks, service marks, or patents, knowing how long each license lasts can be vital, so that you know when to reapply. The power is left to you to make sure these protections are enforced in most cases, along with seeing that the licenses are kept up to date.
Most intellectual property lasts as follows:
- Copyrights – these usually last for the lifetime of the ‘author,’ as well as 70 years past that. Copyrights refer to artistic expressions of work, but for your business purposes could also be software, architectural structures, and more.
- Trademarks/Service marks – this type of intellectual property is good in ten-year increments that can be renewed indefinitely. Both trademarks and service marks (which serve as a subset of trademarks) apply to branding mechanisms, helping customers identify with the products and services you offer. Your trademark typically may be a logo or a symbol, and your service mark may be a word, slogan, or catch phrase created for marketing purposes.
- Patents – from the time of application, these are good for around 20 years. Patents apply to inventions and are vital to keep others from stealing the right to use, make, sell, or import them.
- Trade secrets – these are protected ‘without procedure or formality,’ and indefinitely so, but they must be something unknown to others, have commercial value, and you must be working to maintain the secrecy of such intellectual property.
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!