If intellectual property (IP) is the foundation of your business, you want to do everything that is legally feasible and necessary to protect it from falling into the wrong hands, especially those of your competitors or of start-ups that might seek to make profitable use of it.
You would also want to be certain that you, and not your employees, own the IP they crafted while on your team.
Using IP agreements to protect your company’s interests
In an increasingly competitive global workplace, it makes a lot of sense to take every available precaution you can to safeguard such extremely valuable information. You wouldn’t leave your important personal documents just lying around for anyone to read or grab. In much the same way, you wouldn’t casually treat the information that is the bedrock of your company.
You can make clear, in writing, to your employees what is and is not allowed regarding their handling, knowledge and ownership of your company’s IP. One way that an employer can do that is through a document called an intellectual property agreement.
No matter how trustworthy your workforce is, it’s smart to take this step of putting everything on paper so it’s clear to all concerned and there are no unfortunate, hard-to-remedy misunderstandings later on.
One expert in this field is quoted on the website of Business News Daily: “….[T]he exact nature of intellectual property rights in the workplace is largely dependent upon any agreements or contracts an employee signed as part of the onboarding process.”
Such a stipulation is called an IP assignment. The expert quoted above explained IP agreements by saying, “Typically, these [employment agreements that new hires are given and expected to adhere to] require an employee to assign any business-related intellectual property to the business.”
These IP issues can be intricate and state laws may apply
As an astute business owner, you will want to be positive you are on solid ground when dealing with IP ownership matters. Don’t let a lack of knowledge about your rights and responsibilities backfire, thus hurting your company or its profits later on.