The opinions as to whether or not one should protect their intellectual property are vast and varied. Let’s take a look at both sides of the issue, the pros and cons:
First let’s start with the pros:
- If you have a business idea, one unique to the industry you choose to compete in, protection is vital. Whether it is a logo, slogan, or even a phrase, the uniqueness of a business is a key to its survival in today’s global business market. That uniqueness will help to thrust it past the competition, even better at times than a solid marketing campaign.
- What would Google be without its trademark name? Critics may say to a startup, there is nothing to protect. Something so simplistic matters little to the overall picture. Well they would be wrong. As simplistic as an idea may be and look, it is the very heart of Google and has changed little since its inception.
- Theft, piracy and counterfeiting run rampant, especially online. Online, check any tech board; individuals are constantly attempting to duplicate the success of another organization with little or no regard to the law. Protection means they will not get very far in their attempts to overthrow that organization.
- Overseas protection is crucial, especially to small businesses sending products to other countries. Less than 15% of small businesses are protected, putting them at an extreme risk for a thief to duplicate, and more than likely under sell them. This can effectively put that company out of business. The idea or product then becomes less original offering little value to that company.
- Low cost. In most cases you do not need a lawyer to handle this for you as 100% of this can be done online with free tutorials everywhere. It is suggested however when dealing with an overseas intellectual property, getting legal advice would be wise.
Now the cons:
- Protecting intellectual property actually offers you little protection. Duplication of company ideas is a huge business believe it or not. It will not do much good and offers you little protection when it comes to protecting ideas.
- Legal fees can get out of hand. Let’s say someone does steal your idea, there are very few businesses out there that can afford to take legal action to stop such an attack. Lawyer costs are high, and hoping for any settlement if one does win will more than likely not happen.
- Overseas protection, does it really exist? Go to quite a few countries and you can get pirated products for a tiny fraction of what the original would cost. Look around and it is just not the products, but the business ideas themselves. Law enforcement agencies in these areas turn a blind eye to these actions, often due to being bribed or having little time to deal with the matter. Either that or some countries all together just do not care.
It is up to each individual, of course, to decide how much protection they want. Some protection obviously would be wise, but do not expect that the protection will shield you from every intellectual property thief that lurks around every corner. Nevertheless, the benefits of protection far outweigh the drawbacks.