Can products be too popular to protect?

Business owners go to great lengths to protect confidential, proprietary information. They have employees sign confidentiality or non-compete agreements; they limit access to trade secrets; they also secure patents, copyrights and trademarks to protect unique creations.

While all of these measures can be very effective, there are situations in which a challenge or exception arises and puts these protections in jeopardy. Below we examine a few of these scenarios in the context of intellectual property rights.

The product becomes too popular

As this article notes, this is referred to as "genericide," and involves products becoming so popular that their brand actually becomes generic.

Google recently had to fight off claims that "google" had become so popular as a verb that it was unprotected. Two men had been picking up domains containing the word "google," which the tech behemoth took issue with. An appeals court disagreed with the men's request to have Google's trademark cancelled, upholding the company's ownership.

The protections expire

Patents, trademarks and copyrights can expire unless the owner takes action to renew them. Failure to do this could leave valuable images, inventions and other creations vulnerable to widespread, unauthorized use.

Holders do not enforce the protections

If you have a patent, copyright or trademark but do not take action to protect it, then you could ultimately lose it as its distinctiveness gets marginalized and blurred over time. This could cost you financial remedies and control over the work in question.

Don't let these problems jeopardize your creations

Considering all that is at stake when it comes to intellectual property protection, it is crucial that you take steps to avoid these potential hiccups. You can do this by properly securing your work in the first place, and then diligently protect and maintain it in the years ahead. Letting these things slide can prove to be a costly mistake that could threaten your company's place in the market.

Should you have any questions or concerns about these processes and responsibilities, you can discuss them with an attorney familiar with the various elements of commercial litigation and intellectual property rights.