5 Ways to Safeguard Your IP

The intellectual property your business creates is extremely valuable. Here are five steps you can take to protect it today that can help you avoid a costly defense in the future.

The intellectual property you and your business create is a vital asset. But too many small business owners aren’t doing as much as they can to protect their IP simply because they view such defense as an unnecessary expense. Others fail to protect it because they aren’t sure about how profitable it might be to protect these ideas. While it’s true that creating and maintaining a durable IP portfolio can be costly, the failure to do so can be even more expensive when others try to copy or steal your IP.

The old adage of “the best defense is a strong offense” certainly applies to the world of IP, but it’s also important to understand IP can be employed both offensively and defensively. Investing a little bit now to build up your IP defense will pay off over time if you’re ever in a position where you need to defend it. This investment also has the added benefit of making your IP more valuable.

So, how do you go about initiating the protection of your IP assets? Here are five examples to think about.

  • Get educated. Educate yourself on the basics of copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and patents.
  • Know what to protect. Identify all of your registered and unregistered copyrights and trademarks, as well as any possible trade secrets.
  • Don’t delay. Identify your patentable technology including products as well as business processes. With today's first-to-file system, the sooner you file a patent application, the better—as such an application holds your place in line.
  • Get it in writing. Ensure that any written contract or agreement (including employment and manufacturing agreements) thoroughly and explicitly protects (and defines ownership of) your intellectual property.
  • Talk to a professional. Contact an attorney to learn more about what means of protection might be available to your brand, product, know-how, original work and more.

Properly protecting IP is a valuable process. If you take the steps to safeguard your IP today, you could avoid a costly defense later.

Kevin Soucek is an attorney at Walter | Haverfield who focuses his practice on intellectual property. He can be reached at ksoucek@walterhav.com or at 216-619-7885.

James Pingor is an attorney at Walter | Haverfield who focuses his practice on intellectual property. He can be reached at jpingor@walterhav.com or at 216-928-2984.
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  • Next up: 5 Reasons to Consider the COSE Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA) For Your Business
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  • 5 Reasons to Consider the COSE Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA) For Your Business

                                                             

    Have you heard of the COSE multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA), but you aren’t convinced this is the right health plan for your small business? Here are five reasons why you may want to consider it:

    1.  You have the Support of COSE

    If you are reading this, you are likely already a member of COSE and realize the value of your membership. COSE has partnered with Medical Mutual to offer the COSE MEWA Health and Welfare Trust to help its small business members and their employees with the increasing cost of healthcare benefits.

    2.  Favorable rating of likeminded companies

    The way a MEWA works is by getting together a group of similar small business employers to pool their contributions in a self-contributing benefits plan for their employees. By pooling your contributions with other employers, you are better positioned to offer the best benefit package to your employees due to economies of scale. 

    3.  Strength of network

    Medical Mutual is well known for having the largest provider network in Ohio. With a COSE MEWA plan, your employees will have access to major health systems across the state of Ohio including the recent addition of University Hospitals main campus and other facilities in Northeast Ohio.

    4.  Cost savings

    Since the COSE MEWA is not subject to certain state health insurance regulations and benefit mandates, this type of plan may be less expensive for your group than similar plans on the exchange. In addition, your rate will be determined by expanded criteria including medical history and gender to allow us to better tailor the costs to the unique characteristics of your group. 

    5.  Wellness benefits

    Through Medical Mutual, the COSE MEWA offers a comprehensive suite of wellness and disease management programs designed to promote healthy lifestyle behaviors. These wellness programs start with a health assessment to provide a baseline to help your employees better understand their health and identify risk factors for disease. Additional programs are available including the Health Resource Center on My Health Plan, fitness discounts, access to the QuitLine program for tobacco users and a WeightWatchers® reimbursement.

    To request a quote, contact your broker or visit our page.


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  • Next up: 5 Ways to End Workplace Dishonesty
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  • 5 Ways to End Workplace Dishonesty

    How well do you understand workplace dishonesty—the reasons behind it and the different forms it can take on? We are bringing you a deep dive on dishonesty and how to identify it—as well as five tips to preventing it from happening in the first place.

    As a small business, you should understand and be able to recognize the various types of workplace dishonesty. It is important to be proactive when it comes to addressing dishonesty because it not only costs businesses valuable time and resources, but it also has a negative impact on a company's bottom line and affects company morale—possibly leading to more dishonest behavior by other employees.

    Below are three reasons why workplace dishonesty may occur:

    Reason no. 1: Employee dissatisfaction. When an employee feels low morale or is dissatisfied with their job, the company management, or conditions in the workplace, they may engage in employee theft, misrepresentation of work hours on their time sheets, or slowing down production, among other things.

    Reason no. 2: Weak accountability systems. Do you have good checks and balance systems, accounting and inventory systems? If not, you risk employee dishonesty. If there is no fear of being caught, stealing becomes attractive and can easily occur.

    Reason no. 3: Disgruntled employees. Employees who believe they're underpaid or underappreciated may feel inclined to lie, cheat or steal.

    Workplace dishonesty can come in many forms, including the following.

    Form no. 1: Lying. Whether employees lie to their bosses, each other, or even to customers, they can cause a great deal of damage to a small business.

    Form no. 2: Misuse of company time. Employees who conduct personal business during company time are essentially being dishonest and can cause a company to lose money through their actions. This includes personal phones calls, social media or internet use (unless it’s connected to their jobs and approved), taking excessive breaks and more.

    Form no. 3: Absences under false pretenses. Excessive absences under false pretenses are also considered dishonest behavior. This can include abusing time off, vacation time, sick leave and personal days.

    Form no. 4: Other unethical conduct. This type of dishonesty can cover things like submitting incorrect time sheets, theft (account padding, embezzlement, stealing cash or merchandise, creating phantom vendors, etc), drug or alcohol abuse and more.

    The following tips can help you crack down and reduce dishonesty in your business.

    Tip no. 1: Address morale issues and any concerns regarding workplace dissatisfaction.

    Tip no. 2: Create systems for all accounting entries, petty cash receipts and inventory to monitor activity and prevent dishonesty.

    Tip no. 3: Nip possible dishonesty in the bud before you hire by doing background checks on resumes and candidates.

    Tip no.4: Keep a close eye on existing employees’ interactions with their supervisors, customers and other employees.

    Tip no. 5: Create a system of checks and balances and put these in writing. Include any repercussions that may accompany these behaviors (such as suspension, termination or legal action) and distribute written policies to all employees.

    President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Speaker, Trainer, Corporate Security ExpertTimothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at info@sacsconsulting.com

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  • Next up: 6 Ways to Use Social Media to Attract Millennials to Your Business
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  • 6 Ways to Use Social Media to Attract Millennials to Your Business

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  • Next up: 7 Concealed Carry Changes that Might Impact Your Business
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  • 7 Concealed Carry Changes that Might Impact Your Business

    Stay up to date on recent concealed carry changes that could impact how you or your employees do business.

    Recently, changes were made to Ohio’s Concealed Carry Law. Here are the seven changes and improvements that were made and how they might impact your place of business, the way you conduct your business, your employees, or even how you go on about your day.

    1. Prohibit a business entity, property owner, public or private employer from banning a person who has been issued a valid concealed handgun license (CHL) from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition when the items are locked in a person's privately-owned motor vehicle on company property. This does not prevent any owner from NOT allowing any firearm inside their building facilities. Some ownership groups are allowing “designated” people to carry concealed weapons in their buildings, but in these instances those personnel are required to have a CHL permit, have annual training and officially be provided permission in writing by the company management and/or ownership.

    2. Allow CHL holders to keep their handgun locked in a motor vehicle on school premises. This allows adults to pick up, drop off or respond to sick kids without having to go home to drop their firearm off to stay within the legal limits of the law. The firearm MUST stay in the vehicle and be locked and secured if the adult exits the vehicle.

    3. Allow colleges and government bodies to decide for themselves if concealed carry should be allowed. Several colleges recently decided to allow CHL permit holders to carry firearms, but are also mandating the weapons be concealed always.

    4. Allow CHL holders to carry on private aircraft and also in the non-secure areas of all airports. This area would include from parking to the security passage areas inside the airports.

    5. Allow CHL holders to carry on the property and inside day-care centers (unless the day care posts a "no-guns" sign). This allows adults to pick up, drop off or respond to sick kids without having to go home to drop their firearm off to stay within the legal limits of the law. If the day care center posts no firearms allowed inside the building then the firearm MUST stay in the vehicle locked and secured if the adult exits the vehicle.

    6. Allow active military members who have the same or greater training than that required to obtain a CHL to carry a concealed firearm as a license-holder to carry without a license.

    7. Allows the sale of firearms to active duty military members without regard to their age. Current law prohibits those under 21 from purchasing a handgun.

    Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, is president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services Inc. He is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at info@sacsconsulting.com.

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  • Next up: 7 Tips to Combat Digital Eye Strain and Improve Productivity
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  • 7 Tips to Combat Digital Eye Strain and Improve Productivity

     

    Did you know that the right eyewear can help combat digital eye strain and improve employee productivity? In today's digital world, many employees spend the day with their eyes glued to screens. Research shows that many workers complain of headaches, eye strain, and blurred vision on the job, which could be attributed to the blue light emanating from their digital devices. As many as 2 in 3 American adults experience digital eye strain symptoms from using a digital device¹.

    So, what are ways you can help reduce digital eye strain and boost productivity in your business? Here are 7 simple tips!

    1. Regular Eye Exams

    Remind employees to schedule regular eye exams so their prescriptions are up to date. An optometrist can help identify the underlying causes of discomfort and provide recommendations for specialized lenses or lens coatings that can be applied to any prescription or non-prescription lens.

    2. Kill Glare with Anti-Reflective Lens Coatings

    Anti-reflective coatings can help reduce blue light exposure and glare emanating from digital devices. Through your COSE membership, comprehensive VSP vision insurance plans are offered. Depending on which type of coverage you have for you and your employees, these features can be subject to copays. For more details, you can check your benefits here.

    3. Control Light Levels

    Adjust the brightness levels and the contrast on individual monitors and consider investing in anti-glare coverings for screens.

    4. Take Breaks and Shift Focus

    Advise employees to rest their eyes occasionally, and make sure to shift focus when they do. The Mayo Clinic is one of many health advocacy groups that recommend the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

    5. Offer Artificial Tears

    Making single-use vials of over-the-counter lubricating eye drops available in the workplace can be a great way to reduce the symptoms of eye strain.

    6. Position Monitors Properly

    Ideally, the employee’s eyes should be level with the top of their screen, and it should be an arm's length away from them.

    7. Make Type Bigger

    Encourage employees to adjust the size of the type that appears on their monitor to maximize comfort.

    1. 2017 Digital Eye Strain Report, The Vision Council

    Make vision health a priority, starting with these simple tips. If you haven’t already, take advantage of your COSE member benefit and opt-in to VSP vision insurance. Contact your COSE sales representative or broker for more info.

     

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