Intellectual property (IP) issues are a legal minefield for business owners. The use of graphics, taglines, and even product components that are not developed in-house can leave a business owner open to intellectual property violation allegations. There are also risks if a new hire uses intellectual property from a previous employer.
IP violations can have serious consequences. The costs of resolving IP disputes can effectively bury a business. When so much is at stake, it’s important to bear in mind the following tips for helping you avoid IP violations.
1. Ensure a piece of content is not already protected by copyright
A good starting point for any business to check whether a work is copyright-protected is with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
2. Use original music and images
The best way to avoid IP violations is to use original content for advertisements and marketing materials. This is generally easy enough when you have an in-house creative staff. However, many businesses rely on the services of freelancers. If you use freelancers, it’s essential to include language in the contract which states that all rights to the created materials belong to your business.
3. Ensure you have the appropriate licenses
If you use any type of copyright protected material, ensure that you obtain all of the necessary licenses. In addition, obtaining written consent from the copyright holder to use the material can add an additional layer of protection.
4. Look for sources of royalty-free media
There are a number of online companies who provide businesses with royalty-free media. This type of media is not subject to the strict restrictions imposed on the use of IP. However, you should provide credit to the creator of the content, whenever possible.