Welcome back to our now long-running series "IP 101". In this edition, we'll run through a few more of the best questions we've received about intellectual property and your business.
Instead of a contract, can we just put the licensing/branding/copy right protection language in an email as the job may be small?
Along with "don't forget your towel," "get things in writing" is among the best advice that you can take to heart, especially in business. The only issue with email is that it can be doctored after the fact. Even if you do a simple one pager that both parties sign and keep on file, you won't regret having a contract as opposed to foregoing one.
I have a service concept. I need to share it with my Board of Directors, mentors, etc. Do I have IP that needs to be protected? Should it be a trademark?
If you have an idea that you need to share with your Board or others, you want to have a Non-Disclosure Agreement or Confidentiality Agreement in place with those people to prevent them from discussing your ideas with others. This will keep you protected and allow you to disclose to your Board as necessary.
Can I protect my idea on how to do business, i.e. a particular way I raise funds? Would a method be IP property?
This is a very tricky area if you are thinking patents. There have been several Supreme Court cases that have seriously limited and muddled business methods or business process patents. It's very complex and you should seek legal advice. However, your other option is to keep your method as a trade secret.
What is the best way to protect a blog when aggregating news from other sites and blogs?
When you create and publish your blog, it is protected by copyright as original content. Should you think that you may have to pursue legal action at some point, you can register it with the Copyright Office. As far as aggregation, proceed with caution when using others' content, and be aware of the rules regarding citation.