By David Takagawa, Intellectual Property Lawyer
iStockSecuring and leveraging IP rights may not be at the top of your mind during these challenging times. But ensuring that your organization has a robust IP strategy in place will help you to weather this pandemic while positioning your organization for success in the recovery.
Here are three starter questions to help you assess your IP readiness:
Is my brand protected by trademark registration?
Words, logos, and other brand identifiers play a critical role in helping your product or service stand out from the competition. The pandemic has accelerated the shift toward online marketing and marketplaces. Online brand protection mechanisms, such as the Amazon Brand Registry, and the ability to initiate takedown requests for infringing products or services, are usually only available to holders of registered trademarks. Trademark registrations offer many other legal advantages, so this should be a priority.
Is my confidential information adequately protected?
The shift to remote work has decreased control over employee access to and use of confidential information. Personal devices and home Wi-Fi networks are usually less secure. There is also an increased risk that hard copies of confidential information will be misplaced or stolen. Accidental disclosure can lead to trade secret loss, as well as the loss of other IP, such as unfiled patents and designs. Protocols for remote access (e.g. two-factor authentication and prohibiting storage of company files on personal devices) and hard copy document control (e.g. requiring documents to be kept in locked storage) should be considered. Heightening employee awareness of phishing and other online scams is also important since your organization’s IT department won’t be monitoring employees’ home networks.
Is IP ownership clear?
Too often organizations incorrectly assume they own the IP related to their business. The fact that a contractor was paid to create the IP or that the IP was generated by employees does not necessarily mean that the organization owns the IP. Remote working environments can exacerbate these issues, such as when work responsibilities shift or work is performed using property that does not belong to the company. Clearly drafted written agreements setting out IP ownership should be put in place or reviewed to ensure they are adequate.
As a boutique firm of nearly 20 intellectual property lawyers based in Vancouver, Oyen Wiggs is proud to support BC’s community of innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs. For over 40 years we have assisted local businesses with their IP needs in Canada and globally.