Understanding Intellectual Property Protection for Businesses in Southern California

Business Law

How Can You Best Protect Your IP Rights?

When you’re starting or managing a company, there are many business law matters to consider. From choosing the correct business formation to implementing contract processes that best protect your interests, it can be challenging to manage these legal matters without experienced help. That’s especially true when it comes to intellectual property rights.

The Importance of Protecting Your Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual property can be some of the most valuable assets a business owns. Your intellectual property may differentiate your brand on the market, support customer loyalty, or enhance the overall value of products or services you provide. These facts make it essential to protect your intellectual property rights.

Some challenges businesses can face when it comes to intellectual property rights include:

  • Someone stealing or using your intellectual property. You may put a lot of effort and resources into developing intellectual property, and those expenditures can be wasted if someone steals your property or otherwise uses it without your permission.
  • Market dilution that impacts your revenue potential. If a competitor uses your ideas or processes to make and sell products under its brand, it can dilute the market for those products. That can lead to lost revenue for your business.
  • Actions that negatively impact your business, product, or brand reputation. When others use logos, business names, or taglines that are similar to your business, it can be confusing to consumers. It can also lead to negative implications for your brand reputation if those other businesses aren’t living up to your customer service, quality, or mission and values requirements.

Types of Intellectual Property Rights Protections for California Businesses

A business law attorney can help you conduct an intellectual property rights audit to determine what type of IP assets you might have. They can also help you understand what type of protection is best for each of your assets.


Trademarks help protect brand marks, including components such as words, symbols, phrases, names, slogans, and logos. Even colors can be trademarked in certain situations. However, the trademark process is complex and requires research, and you may need to be using the mark in a certain way before you seek to make your trademark official.

You can also register trademarks federally or with the state. A business law attorney can help you understand whether California state trademark processes are essential for your company.


Copyrights protect works of authorship, though they are not limited to literary works like novels or short stories. You can also copyright plays, musicals, movies, videos, music, paintings, drawings, sculptures, and photographs. Copyright law also allows for the protection of architectural drawings, certain computer program code, and technical drawings.

Technically, whoever authors any of these types of original works owns the copyright to their work. However, your options for protecting works or entering into litigation if your copyright is infringed upon are limited if you don’t register the work with the U.S. Copyright Office.


Patents are used to protect inventions, including actual products or certain types of processes. The patent process is complex and requires you to demonstrate that your invention is novel—or unique.

If you have a patent, you have a legal right to stop others from using your invention in a commercial fashion, including in products the other person or company is selling or manufacturing. A patent can enhance the long-term value of your product or invention, as you have more control over how it can be used in the market.

Contracts and NDAs

You may have valuable trade secrets or other company information that isn’t eligible for one of the protections above but would still be detrimental to your business if shared. You might consider protecting these types of intellectual property with contracts and non-disclosure agreements. For example, you can include an NDA in an employment agreement that requires the employee to keep certain information about your products or business confidential. If you later find out an employee or recent former employee shared trade secrets with competitors or someone else, your contract provides options for seeking remedies to the situation.

Why Work With an Experienced Business Law Attorney?

Protecting intellectual property takes time and an in-depth understanding of business and IP law. Something that sounds as simple as a trademark search can be difficult, because the databases used to make these searches are complex and you can easily overlook potential marks that might compete with your concept.

Even after you put protections in place, managing your intellectual property rights can take a lot of time and knowledge. For example, how do you know if someone has infringed on those rights? And if they have, what do you do about it? You may need to contact the person with a cease and desist letter or even engage in litigation to protect your business.

An experienced business law team can help with all of these tasks. They can also provide guidance as you set up your business, create contracts to protect your assets, and register intellectual property with the appropriate agencies.

If you’re starting or managing a business in Southern California and have questions about protecting your intellectual property, the Element Law Firm may be able to help. Give us a call
at 760-642-6111 to book a 15-minute complimentary phone call to find out more.

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