Top 5 Intellectual Property Tips for Marketers

May 21, 2015

2:00 pm

On the surface, the job description of a marketer is to help their company or their client raise awareness of their brand or educate customers in the hopes of generating sales of whatever product they have to offer. So while it’s logical to view marketers as an extension of sales, they’re every bit as inventive as the nerds that developed that product (all due respect to nerds.)

Marketers spend their days developing branding, logos, slogans, and copy for their clients, and those ideas often result in valuable intellectual property (IP). So while there are plenty of reasons for marketers (and everyone) to care about intellectual property, here are the top five:

  1. You can overlook your most valuable assets. Most people assume that intellectual property is limited to a patented invention, or in the case of marketers, a copyrighted slogan.  But there are many other aspects to your business that are your intellectual property and need to be protected.  Your contacts and customer lists are trade secrets that you need to keep, well, secret.  And your particular know-how is another invaluable asset that shouldn’t be overlooked.
  2. Not understanding intellectual property can lead to infringement.  While that idea you had for a new company logo may be great, it may also be someone else’s. Understanding the basics of intellectual property law can help you to avoid an unpleasant infringement case. While you may not mean to use someone else’s idea (just ask this guy), it can happen if you aren’t careful. For example, violating a copyright can end up costing you three times as much as you made in damages. Educating yourself is the first step to avoiding those mistakes.
  3. Intellectual property is the most valuable asset startups have. When starting out, most businesses are long on ideas but short on cash. Most startups are unaware that their intellectual property is their most valuable asset, but it’s true.  A great idea, backed by the proper legal protection, is the foundation to any business’ success
  4. Avoid wasting time on ideas you can’t use.  There is nothing worse than pouring resources into developing branding or other creative assets that you can’t use because it infringes upon someone else’s intellectual property.  Having to go back to the drawing board to start over is a waste of both time and money that modern businesses can’t afford.
  5. Intellectual Property Ownership Doesn’t “Follow the Money.” Whether your company employs contractors or you’re working as a contractor yourself, the issue of ownership of work created for hire isn’t as straightforward as you may think. While the logical conclusion may be that you automatically own the work you created or paid for, it isn’t necessarily that straight forward. Make sure any agency-client services agreement you use addresses the issues of IP transfer and ownership.

Image Credit: Saumya Rastogi

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Mike Willee is the operations coordinator at Traklight

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