Over the last 20 years, we’ve become so incredibly connected and mobile that operating and maintaining a business can, for many business owners, be done from their phone or similar devices, and from nearly anywhere in the world.
Maintaining your business's staff and operations is easily directed via email or other communication outlets, even going so far as to be able to check on those operations yourself via cameras placed throughout the workplace. It’s then as simple as opening up a link to the video feed to see your crew hard at work.
Websites, as well, have become central hubs where most businesses advertise, demonstrate, and sell their products. For the small business owner who hires a small company to create a website, or uses one of the many web design companies who make the process quick and easy, there should be some concern about how protected your website, and all of the content you’re producing for that website, is as far as copyrights and trademarks.
“It’s incredible that we’re connected virtually everywhere these days and that also makes everyone a potential entrepreneur or small business,” said Domenica Hartman from Hartman Global Intellectual Property Law.
“For the most part, though, they really don’t know how to protect themselves,” noted Hartman. “I see in our own practice from clients who are small business owners and entrepreneurs who, after they come in to meet, say, ‘Whoops! We didn’t get that protected like you had mentioned!’ And I really can’t fault them because I know that resources can be limited and they’ve got to prioritize.”
In reference to prioritizing trademarks and copyrights to a small business owners online content, most don’t consider protecting their work until the need for protection becomes an issue that they’re forced to confront.
“When push comes to shove, and the copyright or trademark becomes the priority, they realize that it’s very important,” said Hartman. “Whether it’s an individual, a startup, or a small business, during their first phase of beginning their operation, there are ways of getting the process started towards obtaining copyright protection and trademark protection that don’t cost any money.”
“Obviously, federal protection is best and those do require an expenditure, but there are ways to initially protect yourself without an outlay of funds. I know funds are prioritized and the first order of business is to get their product out there to judge whether or not it will be successful. Do people want or need your product? If not, then don’t spend the funds to obtain protection.”
Before putting anything out into the public domain, Hartman Global encourages inventors and potential small business owners to contact their company for an initial free consultation. Having access to these industry professionals at Hartman can be incredibly enlightening, and could have a tremendous impact on how successful an entrepreneur, and their business, will ultimately become.
“I don’t know how many times we’ve been able to help get people on the right track,” Hartman said. “We help give them a timeline that says, ‘If you meet this benchmark then you need to come in work towards federal protection.’ Intellectual property tends to be the orphan child, and establishing a game plan for entrepreneurs is incredibly important.”
There are many excellent resources throughout the region who are geared towards helping the innovators and the entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground right here in the Northwest Indiana. Two such organizations are the Purdue University Northwest - Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center and the Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC). To find out more about these organizations, click here!
“Our portion of the state is unique,” Hartman concluded. “We have, in this relatively small geographical area, phenomenal resources to the entrepreneurs regarding the protection of their intellectual property. I encourage people every day to contact us about a free initial consultation, or get in touch with these organizations because they can really help.”
In summing up her approach and advice to entrepreneurs and small business owners, Hartman said, “Protect yourself first, even if it’s the initial free protection. You’ve got to come in and talk, whether it’s us or some other IP professional, because that initial protection is vital.”
To find out how to set up a time to meet with Domenica and the team at Hartman Global Intellectual Property Law, go to: www.hartmanglobal-ip.com/!