Popular Misconception: I do not run a "Tech Company" therefore I do not have any Intellectual Property (IP). If you have a business, you have IP! You just may not have anything to patent.

Often people equate patents with IP. That narrow view leaves out trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. For example, any company with a name (and most need a name to operate) that is doing business may consider registering a trade name with the state or a federal trademark on that name. Making sure that you do not copy someone's name and create confusion in your market is a great thing to do before you spend scarce start-up money on marketing materials or domain names.

Even if the company’s business is not technical, most business have a website and therefore should protect the information displayed with a copyright. Logos and slogans can be trademarked and protected with copyright.

Employees or contractors may need to know your secret sauce to operate but that does not mean that you give away your trade secrets. Everyone who works for you in any capacity should be bound to keep your secrets confidential. 

The good news is that IP is an asset and increases the value of your company. The great news is that first step of knowing you have IP to protect is simple. 

But the best news is that there are resources to raise awareness and educate startups, inventors, and businesses. Check out the IP Cloud and the links to some startup thought leaders such as Steve Blank. Visit your local SBDC or SCORE Mentor. Just know that you have IP!

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