Four Legal Tools to Help Your Business Grow and Thrive

pay off debtRunning a small business can be a rewarding experience in many ways. It takes a lot of hard work and planning, but the payoffs are extremely satisfying. In order to get the most possible benefits out of your business, you need to make smart use of all the legal tools available to you. There are tools to help you protect your brand and your work, as well as tools to help you make a name for yourself that will draw new business. Here are four legal tools you need to know about.

Trademarks

A trademark is the legal term for a brand. Trademarks are names or symbols that are intended to distinguish your goods from those of any other business. They are important because brand recognition is a major component in consumer choices. Your brand represents your products, but also your quality, your level of customer service, and everything about your company in a consumer’s mind. Customers tend to keep buying products from brands they know and trust, so registering your brand as a trademark can help you protect this valuable marketing tool.

Copyrights

Copyrights are granted to protect original creative works from being copied by other artists or business people. These legal tools are especially important to business owners who work in creative fields such as writing, music, art or graphic design, or filmmaking. Copyright is technically granted automatically to every new creative work, so whatever you create has some protection. However, registering copyrights officially provides extra levels of protection, such as the ability to sue in federal court to protect your rights.

Patents

There are multiple types of patents for different kinds of works. Utility patents are granted to new inventions, or new ways of making products. Design patents are granted to new styles or types of ornamentation on existing machines or objects. Patents give you the exclusive right to produce goods which you have invented or designed. It keeps other businesses from taking advantage of your work by copying your goods and selling them as their own.

DBAs

A DBA is similar to a trademark in that it is about creating a recognizable name. Where trademarks are intended to protect a recognizable name for products, a DBA creates a recognizable name for your business. Short for “Doing Business As,” a DBA gives your business the ability to operate under a different name than the name formally registered with the state. You can use a DBA to give your business a more marketable name or as part of a rebranding plan. It gives sole proprietors the ability to do business under a different name than their own personal name.

Trademarks, copyrights, patents, and DBAs are all tools for the small business owner to position him or herself well in the marketplace or to protect his or her hard work from encroachment by other businesses. Make sure you receive all the benefits of your business by putting these tools to work for you.

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