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Small Business Hub: A Research Guide for Entrepreneurs

Protect Your Business

When it comes to protecting your business there is more than just the safety of physical properties to think about. Safeguarding new ideas and inventions as well as the products created as a result, which constitute the intellectual property of a company, should be a top priority—the company's existence may depend on its intellectual property. There are four basic types of intellectual property (IP) protection to be aware of: patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret. Entrepreneurs should know about each of them to protect their IP and to take care not to violate someone else's IP rights. Getting educated about intellectual property rights, learning how to protect it, and taking necessary steps recommended by experts can reduce the risk of IP violations, although it will not replace the legal advice you might have to seek in some cases.


Starting points:

Suggested strategies:

  • Identify what kinds of intellectual property your company owns.
  • Use this assessment tool from U.S. Patent and Trademark office: IP Awareness Assessment (USPTO)
  • Register your copyright, trademark, patent as appropriate.
  • Make sure your company's trade secrets are secure.
  • For additional research assistance send your question to the Law Library of Congress.

Selected Resources