HR Support on Protecting Intellectual Property at Work

By hrlineup | 21.12.2020

In the current knowledge-based business world, the company intellectual property can be more valuable even than the physical assets.

But because employees develop intellectual property, what happens if the employee resigns or you terminate their contract altogether?

Does it mean that this unique workplace property is at risk of getting lost or falling in the hands of your business competitors?

This article will polish you with the necessary steps to help ensure that your intellectual property remains behind.

What is Intellectual Property (IP)?

According to WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), Intellectual property or IP are creations of the mind like artistic works, inventions, literary, and images or names used in commerce. In short, intellectual property is intangible or invisible, unlike traditional properties like goods or land.

Intellectual property rights protection fall into three distinct categories:

  • Trademark – discouraging other businesses or brands from adopting similar commercial names or logos.
  • Copyright – protect authored intellectual works like literary, dramatic, musical, and other original content.
  • Patent – the state grants exclusive rights to the inventor for a specific period.

HR Tips on How to Protect Intellectual Property

Identify your IP

The first step of protecting an employer’s intellectual property is to know what needs to be protected and from whom to shield it. To do that, HR, in conjunction with other departments like sales and legal services, must lias to identify IP. After that, proceed to label the IP to demonstrate that the information is protected.

Register copyrights, patents, and trademarks

Ensure that the company’s intellectual property is registered. This will give you exclusive rights to those innovations, especially if they are commercially viable. If your business is a start-up, protect your identity and interest by registering the domain, product, or business name.

Avoid joint ownership

Always avoid joint ownership like the plague. One party should have full rights on IP, even in the case of a collaborative effort. However, people will need to have a sit-down and sign an employer and employee IP agreement with lawyers from both sides.

Control IP access

Draft policies that restrict using personal USBs and flash drives, which might facilitate the transfer of data from an organization. In other words, don’t allow employees to leave with the company’s data from the workplace. You can limit information access to websites and email accounts or even Google Drive and Dropbox.

Educate employees about IP

Educating employees about IP is an intellectual property protection strategy that is mostly overlooked but very useful. In most cases, IP leaks can happen through negligence or accident. Therefore, educating employees about something that the company has invested a lot in is essential.

The Bottom Line

Intellectual property is a vital business asset, Just like any workplace property. Therefore, take the necessary steps to protect it against unauthorized access. It can be the difference between you and your closest competitors.