Protecting your small business’s creative ideas and inventions

 Once you have turned your dream into a business based on ideas or products of your own invention, it is time to take steps to protect your hard work and creativity. If you are offering a physical product or invention, it is a good idea to check into getting a patent from the U.S. patent office. You will need to show that your idea is new and unique to obtain your patent, so be sure to keep good records.

 

Detail clearly what your product or invention is, how it works, how it could be made, and what its advantages are, including a simple drawing. Then take out a patent either yourself or through a patent agent  (recommended). It can be a time-consuming process, sometimes taking several months, even up to a year, but will be worth it in the long run. You don’t want your methods and technological knowledge to be used by the competition.

 

There are also simpler steps you can take to protect your ideas. Be proactive — even a simple search for some of your graphics or product photos on a Google Images search can help you see if someone is copying your ideas. You’ll also want to paste in key phrases from blogs or sales sheets into various search engines to see if matches come up that are not from your site.

 

If you find that someone has been stealing or copying your work, first approach nicely and ask that the copied items be removed from sales circulation or from the business’s website.

 

If that doesn’t work, you may need to get an attorney involved. This can be a long and expensive process, but remember, your concept and creativity are the spark at the heart of your company. That spark is worth protecting.