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Protecting Your Product/Service

FastTrac, Kauffman Foundation

Being an entrepreneur means that you're building something of value. You wouldn't do all the hard work of building a wooden house without protecting it with paint-and it's more than just the investment of time, sweat, and money. Many entrepreneurs feel more like parents than builders. As a parent, you would do everything possible to protect and nurture your children. You wouldn't let your children play in the street or wander off with strangers. You'd protect them with all your heart and soul. An entrepreneur's business needs and deserves the same kind of protection.

This section describes several things you should be doing to protect your business and comply.

Identify and Protect Intellectual Property

You can create a competitive advantage for your company by developing expertise, processes, and formulas that are difficult for others to copy. This intellectual property can include much more than just patents and trademarks. Certain aspects of the way you do business can create a competitive advantage. This advantage can realize further profitability when your product and service and the expertise, processes, or formulas used to bring them to life are protected.

You can also use intellectual property to increase the value of your company. For example, one strategy might be to patent inventions to keep competitors from using the same technology for a period of time. Most often, branding enhances the value of your product or service and develops a large loyal customer base. Trade and service marks such as logos, tag lines, packaging and image, as well as product or service improvements and new products all combine to create value for your company.

Intellectual property takes three forms:legalsuch as patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets; humansuch as employees' knowledge and skills; and relational suchas customers, suppliers, independent contractors, and consultants.

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