Business owners in North Dakota who do not take the proper steps to protect their assets may be setting themselves up for expensive and time-consuming litigation. According to a report from The Washington Post, the world economy suffers a $445 billion loss every year due to economic espionage and cybercrimes, a significant portion of which is attributable to the theft of intellectual property.

The best way to avoid these losses is to mitigate the risk associated with a business’ most important assets. There are several options for doing so, including the following: 

  • Patents: These protect an invention.
  • Trademarks and service marks: These assign protection to words, phrases, symbols and designs associated with goods and services.
  • Copyrights: These are designed to protect any creative work, such as a movie, book or song.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office warns that while trademarks and service marks do not expire, a patent or copyright will. Patents that protect a design expire after 14 years, and utility or plant patents expire after 20 years. Copyright duration depends on who created the work. In most cases, an individual who creates a work of art and secures a copyright will have protection for his or her lifetime plus 70 years. Any item made anonymously or for hire will have the shorter of 95 years of protection from the date of publication or 120 years from the creation date.

Aside from these measures, businesses may have trade secrets that would be devastating if exposed. Measures such as confidentiality agreements may deter employees and other parties from disclosing this type of information.

Experts agree that commercial entities work with a professional to determine which of these measures would be cost-effective and enforceable.