Starting a business includes conceptualization of a business name, a business logo and products or services that are exclusive to the business firm. These are products of planning and creative thinking by business owners to keep their firms competitive and sought after due to their unique quality service. Thus, to protect and recognize the efforts put into businesses by their owners, including the time and costs incurred during the conceptualization, planning and execution stage of whatever business-related improvements decided upon, laws have been formulated and passed.
One specific law that gives copyright holders and the US government extra capability to stop access to fraudulent websites, where selling of counterfeit or infringing goods is the main trade, is the PROTECT IP Act or PIPA. PIPA, the shortest acronym for Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, was introduced on May 12, 2011. It is actually a re-write of COICA (Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act), a bill which was not approved in 2010. Another related bill that was introduced on October 26, 2011, was the SOPA or Stop Online Piracy Act.
“Infringement,” under PIPA’s definition, refers to any act that will enable or facilitate the distribution of counterfeit goods, as well as violation of the anti-digital rights management technology. This is because of the recognition of the exclusive rights to the creations of the mind, such that each unique good, or improvements in existing goods, would be the intellectual property (IP) of the one who conceived such good or improvement.
The intellectual property law grants owners exclusive rights to their intangible assets, like music, literary pieces, other works of art, inventions, discoveries, newly formed words, symbols, designs and phrases. Some types of intellectual property rights are trade secrets, trade dress, industrial design rights, patents, trademarks and copyright.
A copyright is aimed at protecting different forms of artistic and written expression, while a trademark is meant to safeguard a symbol or a name which identifies the specific provider of services and/or goods. A patent, on the other hand, is a legal document that is issued by the US government to grant inventors the right to exclude others from copying or selling their inventions (unless rights have been transferred or granted by the inventor to others through inheritance, renting or selling). A patent usually lasts for 20 years; upon its expiration, the right to exclude others stops.
Often, finding the right employees, who can be trusted with company trades and secrets and who can contribute greatly to the growth of a company, is a challenging task, especially if the firm lacks the instruments necessary in screening applicants well. The emergence of functional employment testing firms, however, changed the face of the hiring process, helping employers find the right people for the right job. Through pre-employment screening, these functional employment testing firms are able to specifically identify applicants’ (as well as existing employees’) skills and capabilities and determine whether they are capable of meeting the job’s basic requirements.
Protecting your intellectual property, besides entrusting your company’s growth to capable and trustworthy employees, should one of your major concerns as a business owner. Rather than hiring just anyone, only to compete with them or others who are able to benefit greatly by copying your company’s secrets and/or legally protected inventions, make sure you hire the right people; hiring the services of functional employment testing firms may be additional company cost, but you will soon find out that doing so is more beneficial in the long run.