Businesses & Nonprofits

Most businesses and nonprofit organizations should consider whether they have sufficiently protected the use of their trademarks, such as their name or logo. Specific product lines or services might also be deserving of trademark protection.

Many businesses and nonprofit organizations invest heavily into marketing their products and services. Trademark law can discourage others who might seek to freeride on a business’s or nonprofit organization’s goodwill. A potential customer might mistakenly purchase a product or service from a different source if that source is using a name or mark that creates a likelihood of confusion. Registration of trademarks can provide more leverage to dissuade others from using marks that create a likelihood of confusion.

Many businesses have trade secrets that help them compete or maintain an advantage over their competitors. Trade secrets vary widely, but some examples include customer lists, patterns, plans, formulas, designs, prototypes, methods, techniques, processes, procedures, programs, or codes. Businesses often need to balance secrecy with appropriate disclosure to employees and business partners. Written agreements and provisions can help prevent employees and business partners from misappropriating trade secrets.

Businesses and nonprofit organizations with websites or apps might retain copyright in their designs, though this might depend on the agreement with whoever created the website or app. Many websites and apps provide notice of copyright information, which can be helpful to discourage others from infringing the design. Businesses and nonprofit organizations that have hired vendors or others to create their websites or apps should consider who owns the associated copyrights.