Your company assets are only as good as your ability to keep and protect them (especially in cases of intellectual properties), be it your company name, logo, inventions or best selling product - take steps to protect your ownership rights. We will discuss and explore six (6) key business assets in this step.
As more customers go digital, more businesses are also going to the internet for retail and internet marketing. One of the keys to establish a web presence is to secure a domain name for your business (an example of a domain name is nigelchua.com).
There are a number of low-cost web services that will help you register a domain name for you, as well as provide email and website templates as well.
If you have a unique name for your business and/or products/services, register it as soon as you can. Sometimes, you'd find that someone has beat you to it, but don't be discouraged - you can choose to wait for their registration to expire and then buy (assuming they don't renew) or you can go to them directly and purchase from them.
A trademark will be one of the most important business assets you'll ever own. It's your own brand name, logo or symbol that distinguishes your company and your products/services from another.
When you register your trademark you go on official record as the official owner of the mark - this gives you a significant favor should there be a dispute over your rights to use the mark.
This is especially useful if you find that another company or person is hurting your business reputation or causing confusion by using your trademark to sell similar or lower-quality-and-cheaper goods.
You can indicate ownership of a mark with a symbol of "TM" for your business, or "SM" for a service mark...but there is no protection to them - only registered marks are allowed to use the registered mark symbol "®".
Trademarks are for intellectual property protection, but copyrights grants you exclusive legal rights to your creative work, which can include any content, creative or not, such as website content, literature produced, music etc.
To receive a copyright protection for your work, your creation MUST be expressed in tangible, physical or digital form such as a piece of writing in print or in internet publishing (such as this post).
Once you get the protection, copyright protection prohibits others from taking or copying or reproducing your work without your go-ahead.
If you have good ideas that are workable, don't wait for someone else to "discover" it and take it into a success. Quickly protect your idea/invention so that you can protect it and leverage for it to be a cash machine for you.
You do this by patenting it, excluding other people from using, making, offering for sale or to sell the invention for a limited amount of time in exchange of public disclosure whenever a patent is granted.
There are three kinds of patents: (1) utility patents for processes, machines, manufacturing article or a composition matter; (2) design patents for new, original and ornamental designs; and (3) plant patents for inventions or discoveries of plants that are distinct and new.
If you're going in this direction, I'd recommend you speak to a attorney specializing in patent and intellectual property.
This is to buy time for you to protect your invention(s) until you're ready to build the patent and submit the full patent application. It's a little like down-payment to secure your patent rights.
It expires after one year, so plan and prepare for it. This is to prevent others from claiming your invention, but check with your patent attorney.
If at anytime you're thinking about exposing your company's secrets, regardless whether it's a customer list, a specific business or manufacturing process or financial information that you should keep away from your competition - protect this information.
With a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), you can do this. It can be a "One-Way" NDA or "Mutual" NDA to protect information.