You might aim to inspire others with your invention, art or business plan. But when someone takes your idea and claims it as their own, you could suffer both personally and financially.

As an entrepreneur, artist or business owner, it’s important to protect your intellectual property. Claiming original trade secrets, logos or creative works as your own can help keep your income flourishing and keep old and new ideas safe.

Ward off competition

When you take steps defend ideas through patent, trademark or copyright, then there are consequences in place for those who infringe upon your work. For example, maybe you own a chain of bakeries and created an original logo that you trademarked over a decade ago. When you receive word that another local bakery is using your logo, then you may choose to file a lawsuit.

Through taking legal action, you might be able to stop competitors from profiting off ideas that belong to your company. Specifically, you could obtain a court order that forces the other bakery to stop using your logo or receive monetary damages to relieve any profit loss or help pay attorney fees.

Prevent from theft

Instead of having to go to court, you can try and take preventative measures to stop theft or infringement before it happens. Say you are a are furniture designer. Making a habit of registering all your designs through the United States Patent and Trademark Office can safeguard your designs and make them searchable through an online database. This can give fellow designers a heads up before trying to steal your ideas and make money off them.

Protect your ideas

Even if you come up with business process that you aren’t sure will fit into your strategic plan this year, it may be useful to protect it either way. Maybe you will wind up scrapping the idea down the line or using it three years later. Defending all trade secrets can prevent a current employee from taking an idea developed at your company and profiting off it when they leave to start their own company.

Whether you need representation or guidance, an intellectual property attorney can help you defend your work from infringement before or after it happens.