We live in a copy and paste culture. The accessibility and lack of policing of online content have made it all too easy for anyone to pirate other’s intellectual property.
If you have an IP online it’s important that you protect it. This does more than maintain the integrity of your creation. It can also open up previously unseen sources of revenue. Here are a few suggestions for ways to guard your IP in a cut-and-paste world.
Understand Your IP
The first thing that you want to do is make sure that you have intellectual property in the first place. According to the International Trade Administration, intellectual property is a “creation of the mind” and can manifest in many different ways.
For instance, items such as inventions, artistic and literary works, and commercial images, logos, and names are all forms of intellectual property. If you have an IP, you want to protect it in whatever ways you can.
Start with Legal Protection
The first thing that you want to do with your IP is protect it on the legal front. Depending on the kind of IP, you can do this by filing for IP protection in the form of:
- Trade secrets.
This safeguards your IP in the United States. If you find that you want to protect your IP in other areas of the world, you’ll need to apply for protection with each national or regional government.
Use Tech to Track Your IP
Once you have a copyright or patent, your work has just begun. You may have the legal right to own your property, but the reality is that others will still want to steal it if it has genuine value.
This is where technology can come into play. There are many ways that you can use tech to track how your IP is being accessed by consumers.
For instance, a fast and affordable way to monitor a written work on the internet is to set up a Google alert. This can inform you every time a blog post, trademark, story title, or other protected IP pops up online.
If you want to invest in a more comprehensive solution, you can also set up a digital rights management platform. These are often connected with revenue reporting, but they can also be powerful IP tracking tools, as well.
Aux Mode, a digital rights management platform, can create a financial spreadsheet for you in seconds. This can contain both revenue from legally published content as well as lost revenue from pirated copies.
Boost Your IP With The Same Domain
One of the best ways to protect your IP is to associate yourself with it in every way that you can. The more often your name and your IP are seen together, the easier it will be to make stolen versions stand out.
With so much happening in the online world these days, one of the best ways to connect to your IP is through your domain name. Entrepreneur and marketer Janine Popick explains that “If your business model revolves around the Web, or if you’re planning to spend a lot of money on online marketing, then an exact-match domain name should be a top priority.”
This may cost a pretty penny in the short term — especially if you have to purchase an already registered domain from someone else. However, the close connection with your IP and its host domain will help reinforce the fact that it is yours.
Create Strong NDAs
Nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) are a common way to protect intellectual property used throughout the course of doing business. They’re a great tool to use if you want an employee or contractor to keep quiet about the details of your company.
While NDAs are helpful, though, they can also create a false sense of security if they aren’t made correctly. In theory, a confidentiality agreement allows you to show another person your prized intellectual possession without fear of their sharing it with others.
However, wording can often become blurred and you may overlook certain third-party uses of your IP if your NDA is hastily written. It’s wise to have a lawyer help you draw up an NDA so that it doesn’t leave any room for sketchy interpretation.
Share and Attribute
It may feel odd, but one of the best ways to protect your IP is to share it. By promoting your intellectual property as yourself, you can create a clear image that the property is, indeed, yours and yours alone. This operates along a similar line of reasoning to having an exact-match domain.
If your IP is shareable, such as a song or a piece of literature, don’t hesitate to share it with others — with a clear attribution attached. Every time your IP is recreated, make sure that it is obviously attributed to you.
This will propagate the fact that it is your property. It will also make it more obviously egregious when others recreate the content without permission.
If you’re working with something like a piece of software, you can even use an open-source approach. This not only shares your creation. It invites others to get in on the creativity with you.
Winnie Cheng of Io-Tahoe LLC points out that an open-source IP helps you build a competitive advantage. You are able to gain a leg up from a larger group of developers all while remaining in possession of the IP itself. You are also able to add your own value to the collective work of the IP as a way to propel it beyond the competition.
There are many ways to safeguard your intellectual property. This starts with identifying the IP itself and then guarding it with legal protection. From there, you can use a variety of different methods to establish yourself as the IP owner, including:
- Utilizing a digital rights management platform;
- Setting up Google alerts;
- Getting a matching domain;
- Creating a strong NDA;
- Sharing attributed copies of your IP and even making it open source if appropriate.
Regardless of the specific method, it’s important that you take steps to protect your intellectual property. It’s never been easier to copy and paste an original owner into internet oblivion. Protect yourself against this possibility by creating a solid IP protection plan and then putting it into action as soon as possible.