This is the second in a two-part series. Read Part I here.
In the first article, we examined the impact of innovation and intellectual property strategies. In this article, we summarize the major issues in developing and implementing an intellectual property strategy. Startup and emerging technology companies in particular should have a clear innovation and intellectual property strategy in place—and these strategies should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that it continues to match the company’s business strategy.
II. Copyright strategy.
Copyrights protect “original” works of authorship which are “fixed” in a tangible medium of expression. The standard for originality is very low. Technology products covered by copyright are manuals, firmware and computer software as well as more traditional works such as songs, novels and motion pictures. Unlike patents, copyrights arise automatically when a work is created and do not require an application to the government. However, a U.S. company needs to “register” the copyright prior to bringing a court action for infringement.
IV. Trade secret strategy.
Trade secret law protects information of any type that is valuable to its owner because it is not generally known in the industry and its owner has taken reasonable steps to maintain the information in confidence. Examples of trade secrets include customer lists, source code and semiconductor manufacturing processes. Trade secrets can include both positive and negative information.