Protecting your intellectual property (IP) is one of the first things you should investigate when starting a business. If you don’t, someone else could sneak in and take it, reducing your competitive advantage or making your new venture unviable altogether.
You’ll likely need a range of tools to cover everything. Here are the three main options:
This works to protect designs, words or phrases. In the case of Apple, it would prevent anyone from copying their half-eaten apple logo and stop others from calling their computers a MacBook. You might even face problems if you try to open a bar and call it the Genius Bar.
Apple has likely copyrighted much of its software code, as the law can consider this to be creative work. More typically, copyright refers to songs, books and movies and the like.
If you invent something or come up with a new way of doing something, you should always consider patenting it. Yet you need to make the thing before you can do that. You cannot just patent all your ideas.
Typically patents apply only to a limited part of a product. For example, you cannot patent a new bicycle, as much of the technology you use will have been around for years. You may, however, be able to patent what’s new about yours. For example, if you have a new way to charge your e-bike battery by plugging it into the spinning class at your local gym, you might want to patent that. Or, if you developed a new way to change gears by shifting your feet on the pedals instead of using your hands, that might need a patent.
Protecting your IP is not an area you can afford to take risks with. Consider legal help to learn more about what you need.