On Tuesday night, I had the pleasure of presenting a SCORE workshop for small business owners and potential business owners on intellectual property assets.
SCORE is a national service organization that supports small businesses throughout the nation. They consist of a network of over 11,000 volunteers operating in more than 340 chapters throughout the United States. SCORE volunteers work with and are supported by the US Small Business Administration.
The workshop was attended by over 40 individuals from a wide variety of businesses. Craig Linsky, the SCORE volunteer who organized the event, informed participants that, as of that night, the Jacksonville Chapter had served more than 3,000 individual Jacksonville business owners during the fiscal year. Accountants, hair stylists, artists, fashion designers, tool makers, and international business consultants were just some of the small business owners in the audience.
Workshop attendees learned about trademarks, copyrights, domain names, trade dress, trade secrets, and patents. They received information on how to select a trademark, how to protect their IP assets, and the need to monitor the use of the IP assets to ensure no one else steals them.
Questions from workshop participants are always interesting and fun to answer, such as, “Can I take a photo of a building downtown and use it on my website?” The answer is yes, but make sure there is not a mural on the side of the building. Otherwise, the mural artist may be able to claim copyright ownership and accuse you of copyright infringement.
Everyone always wants to know, “How much does it cost for a trademark registration, copyright registration, or patent application?” I advise people that the cost depends upon many variables. Filing and legal fees vary depending upon the type of intellectual property asset you want to protect. The number of classes you wish to register a trademark in also impacts cost, as does exactly what you are obtaining a copyright registration for (e.g., a software program, a painting, or a collection of paintings).
I recommend that potential business owners and small business owners take the time to review the information provided on the following websites:
- USPTO (For trademarks and patents)
- US Copyright Office
- World Intellectual Property Organization
- Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (For domain names)
I also recommend that small business owners and potential business owners check out SCORE to learn about business mentors and upcoming workshops.