Image Courtesy: Jay MantriIf you have a small business, intellectual property (IP) protection might not be at the top of your priority list. Perhaps because you don't see yourself as vulnerable to having IP stolen. The truth is that all businesses big and small are vulnerable to IP theft; but small businesses frequently ignore IP protection out of fear of it involving too much work with legal matters.

Another problem is small businesses may not have the knowledge about what to do with IP as much as bigger companies do., most commonly due to a lack of resources and putting it off out of fear of costs. Other than here in the United States, where should the small business be focusing their IP protection in order to give a more comprehensive sense of security?

The Lack of Protecting IP Overseas

It may surprise you to know that only 15% of all small businesses are aware they should be protecting their IP overseas. Even larger businesses don't always realize this, despite expanding into overseas markets. Yet, small businesses are particularly vulnerable overseas because they lack the ability to afford staff who can look out for IP theft in other countries. Business deals can take place overseas without necessarily having an international headquarters where a watchdog group could take on IP protection.

In many cases, that theft overseas may be going on undetected for years until the small business finds out years later that others are using their IP in foreign markets.

How should a small business take on overseas IP protection, as well as protecting their IP here in America?

Protecting Small Business IP Overseas

The US Patent and Trademark Office provides individual toolkits for each international country with details on their IP protection policies. Each country has individual policies regarding patents, trademarks, and copyrights, so each has to be dealt with carefully. Afterward, you should consider hiring some legal counsel on working out a protection strategy overseas. This includes working out licensing agreements overseas so your small business can have continual income from the use of your IP in other countries.

It also helps to work with Customs and Border Protections in those foreign markets to record your IP registrations. They can be a watchdog for those attempting to steal your IP.

Of course, here in the states, registering for patents, trademarks, and copyrights is a given. Regardless, with so much IP being stolen from foreign countries lately (mainly China), small business IP protection, especially in countries with common IP theft, should be a top priority.

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