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How can you protect your intellectual property?

These days, a lot of tech businesses rely on proprietary information and designs to thrive -- which means it is increasingly important to keep whatever intellectual property you have from falling into the wrong hands.

Unfortunately, some of those "wrong hands" can belong to your employees. If you don't take the necessary steps to preserve your intellectual property rights, your competitors and even former employees may end up benefiting from your hard work. Keep everything your business has and designs safe by following these three practices.

1. File for any available legal protections.

Patents prevent other people from making your inventions. Trademarks keep others from using things like symbols to distinguish your goods from those made by others. Copyrights protect your original works, whether they've been published or not.

These are all legal protections that you can get to preserve your intellectual property rights. Taking that extra step can resolve a lot of issues later if you end up in litigation over ownership of a piece of intellectual property.

2. Establish an atmosphere of respect.

Develop internal policies that foster a company culture that respects intellectual property rights. Control internal access to any proprietary property you have. Get nondisclosure agreements from your partners, researchers, developers and designers to protect what your company creates. Use electronic surveillance where possible.

Also, make it clear that you won't tolerate anything that's morally questionable when it comes to your competitor's proprietary property as well. Anything less could foster a lax attitude that makes "borrowing" intellectual property seem acceptable.

3. Don't expose your intellectual property unnecessarily.

It's okay to be excited about something innovative in the works, but you want to keep specific information tightly restricted. Nothing you have in development should be discussed with anyone -- even internally -- who isn't directly involved in that process. That reduces the chances that someone will take whatever you started and rush it to completion -- or sell it to someone else who can.

Protecting your intellectual property is an ongoing task -- it's essential to keep the importance of it in your mind and the minds of your employees at all times.

Source: allBusiness, "10 Tips on Protecting Intellectual Property," accessed June 08, 2018

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