The Importance of Protecting Intellectual Property

Indeed, most people are not even aware that they own intellectual property. They assume only large corporations with profitable names, logos and brands to protect are the only ones who really possess a need to safeguard intangible assets. But basically anything that is written, visually created, and unique to an individual is intellectual property which means that millions of individuals own more than they believe.

According to WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), “intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.” Divided into two categories, IP includes industrial property and copyright. And both are equally as valuable since the ramifications of not protecting these assets can be serious.

To better understand these negative effects, we will discuss six reasons why it is prudent to safeguard intangible assets.

1. Theft:
Most obvious is a moral issue. It is just plain wrong to steal something that belongs to someone else but in the real world, people take what is not theirs. And if you have not found a way to at least deter someone from taking your work, you can be assured that it will be copied and used to another's benefit.

2. Loss of Reputation:
In situations where you are an expert in a field, when others use your work in fleeting or inappropriate ways, your reputation as an authority is decreased. You are somehow attached to the negative work of the imposter. Additionally, if your property has been used for illegal gain, you might find it difficult to prove that you were not involved. Sadly, many people believe in guilt by association, so what started as a brilliant theory or invention has now turned into something unrespectable.

3. Loss of Income:
Allowing others to use your work through complacency, negligence or plain ignorance will directly impact your earnings. If you have invented something that is unique or you have written something in your field of expertise, then someone else is reaping some or all of the profits. If they can better market your creation, they will undoubtedly become the leading source for the item and ultimately the biggest earner. In addition, your “brand” is being diluted. That is to say that instead of you being the only person to whom the consumer comes, there is at least one other way to get what they want - from someone who has stolen your property.

4. Asset is Devalued:
Should you ever wish to sell your intellectual property, it will be worth more if it is unique. But if others have stolen it, the value is quickly debased leaving you trying to defend why it is worth more. Likewise, you may be faced with the unimaginable task of proving that you, and not the thief, rightfully own the content, graphics, lyrics, melody, invention or software.

5. Laws Differ Between Countries:
Although international laws exist to prevent trademark and copyright infringements, the reality is prosecution is difficult. Not living in the same country as the offender will make taking someone to court very difficult, and even a good Intellectual Property Lawyer will have a hard time making a good case (more lawyer info on our favorite lawyers info blog). Not only may it be costly, but some countries do not see these issues as criminal behavior. Trying to get a court to take action against a foreigner may be even more difficult. And in the best case scenario, where one wins the case, the offender may not have anything to recompense the victim so basically he/she walks away with impunity. We've spoken to quite a few lawyers in San Diego, and not a single one would even get involved!

6. Prevent Others from Being Ripped Off:
By protecting your intellectual property, you help others to avoid scams and fake products.

IP Matters, and it's important to protect it!