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). When marketers do work for clients, such as creating any sort of customized material, that work is intellectual property, which has many nuances in the legal sphere. Marketers will be better at their jobs when they know about those nuances and apply them to their day-to-day client interaction, especially when signing new contracts.
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 and add to their expertise, here are the top five reasons clients will benefit from your proactiveness:
You can overlook your IP.
Most people assume that intellectual property is limited to a patented invention, or in the case of marketers, a copyrighted campaign or trademarked 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.
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.
Intellectual property is the most valuable asset businesses have.
When starting out, most businesses are long on ideas but short on cash. As companies grow, they are unaware that their intellectual property is their most valuable asset, but it’s true. A great idea or product, backed by the proper legal protection, is the foundation to any business’ success. Without the right agreements, for example employment, co-founder, or contractor, many businesses do not own that IP. Without ownership, it’s difficult to sell, make money, and grow your business.
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. Great examples are using photos from the internet without proper permission or a name that already is used by a competitor. Having to go back to the drawing board to start over with a website, campaign, or even product packaging is a waste of both time and money that most businesses can’t afford.
- Intellectual property ownership can be complex.
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. In addition to your employment contracts, make sure any agency-client services agreement you use addresses the issues of IP transfer and ownership.