Presented by Allen Barron, Inc. and Janathan L. Allen, APC
Close your eyes and imagine your business’ website. Now, make imaginary circles around all of your intellectual property (IP).
“IP covers such a broad spectrum,” advised Janathan L. Allen, Esq., Partner in Allen Barron, Inc., “and understanding what’s protectable, what’s not, what needs to be, and how, is vital. From your product, discovery, unique process or invention to your name, logo, tagline, even the website itself—that uniqueness is gone once it’s in the public domain. And with websites being global, you need protection in a worldwide market—or expect someone else to exploit the returns on your creation.”
Intellectual Property and Tax Laws
Equally important is understanding the interdependent nature of accounting, taxes, and law. “Often people start out with an idea or product, file a DBA, buy a domain name,” explained Allen, “but neglect to take the first steps to create an entity and secure their name, logo, tag lines—anything that will be significant for branding. The moment you put up that website, anything on it is available to the world and if you haven’t filed application, you may be precluded from going back to claim a patent, or trademark, or copyright.”
Even more complex is deciding what form of IP protection—trademark, copyright, patent, or trade secret—and how. “Whatever needs to be protected,” said Allen, “if you have done that as an individual, are you then going to assign rights to the company, or collect royalties or charge a licensing fee? You need to think about the legalities of assigning IP and the tax ramifications both to you as an individual and your company.”
“It’s all intertwined,” said Allen, “which is why we take a holistic approach here at Allen Barron to consider the whole landscape—accounting, taxes, law, marketing, financial planning, and branding are a complex, interdependent system.”
Now, open your eyes. Scroll through that website. If you’re not absolutely sure what to circle, remember that your creativity is your area of expertise—it’s your IP—and it is priceless. The cost of having trustworthy counsel who understands how to protect your most valued assets is far less than the cost of losing what is priceless.
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