Your business produces creative works on a regular basis. For example, the documents, images, website content, blog posts, and PowerPoint slides are creative works generated by you or the team members in your business.
These creative works are valuable to your company when they attract new clients, improve your products or services, and distinguish your business from competitors. You and your team invest time and effort to produce these valuable creations, so you must protect that investment.
Unfortunately, many companies don’t give any significant thought to protecting these business assets. That’s a mistake.
Your creative works represent your company’s intellectual property assets. Here are several things you can do to start protecting those creative works today.
Before you can take action to protect your creative works, you must first identify them. Your creative works include anything created by you or your team. Examples include written content, images and graphic designs, website content, presentation slides, audio content, and video content.
Take inventory of your existing creative works and generate systems to identify new works that are created within your organization. Each time you complete a project or activity, think about the creative works generated during the execution of the project or activity.
You can keep track of all creative works in your business using a variety of systems. I’ve worked with clients who use database systems, spreadsheets, typed lists, inventory notebooks, and other recording systems. Use whatever system is most convenient for you. Be sure to keep it simple enough that you and your team members will actually keep the list updated.
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If you (or a team member) is the creator of the work, then you (or your business) are automatically the copyright owner when the work is finished. But, I still recommend including a copyright notice on your creative works to clearly indicate that the work is protected and identify you as the owner of the copyright.
The copyright notice also represents a branding opportunity because your name appears in the copyright notice. This can help expand your business by exposing your creative works and ideas to a larger audience.
Trademarks include logos, names, and phrases that identify a company providing the related goods or services. Example trademarks include company names (such as Nike, Inc.) and logos (such as the Nike swoosh logo). Consider filing a trademark application for important trademarks, such as the trademarks related to significant products or services in your business. For example, if you are investing significant time and resources to develop and launch a new product, consider a trademark application to protect the new product name (and logo), which helps protect your investment in that new project.
When you hire someone to produce creative works for your business, such as an employee, contractor, or freelancer, it’s important to be sure your business owns that creative work. This is done with a written agreement that clearly states that you (or your business) owns all intellectual property associated with the creative work of the employee, contractor, or freelancer. Typically, this is a clause in an employment agreement, contractor agreement, or freelancer agreement.
Your creative works are important business assets – protect them just as you would protect any other valuable asset. Start implementing at least one of the above suggestions to safeguard your creative works.
Discover how to use copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets to protect your creative works. Download my Free Intellectual Property Quick Reference at http://IPquickreference.com.