The global nature of today’s business world presents exciting opportunities that simply did not exist years ago. However, all opportunities also entail a risk – one of the dangers of international business today is the threat to your intellectual property. You may have registered your idea or product at home and installed the requisite cyber-security measures necessary. However, this doesn’t mean that you have the same level of protection abroad. Thankfully, there are several steps you can take to better secure your business away from home.
If the danger emanates from regular business trips abroad, then you should attempt to minimize the number of phones, laptops and other devices that you travel with and keep those that you need with you at all times. Back up everything and try to make it as difficult as possible for anyone with bad intentions to access your information – consider using encrypted hard drives or one time use USB keys when abroad. At the very least, make sure that you are using strong passwords on all your devices which include a combination of letters, numbers in both lower and upper case. You should also introduce clear processes and policies within your company for travelling abroad. For example, if there is any suspicion that data or equipment has been tampered with, then on no account should staff members attempt to connect to the company network. Importing malware from abroad is as hazardous to your business as any physical virus contracted on foreign soil is to your body.
For companies actually looking to establish a presence in a foreign country, there exists another significant danger and that is the threat to the company’s intellectual property, including ideas, strategies and actual products. It is estimated that around $250billion is lost by businesses each year due to infringement of their intellectual property rights in international markets. Such theft can make a serious dent to a business. Therefore, it is crucial to work out a strategy for intellectual property protection, in conjunction with a legal expert such as LegalVision. There is a huge range of options and so it is important to work out what are the most appropriate tools for you. For example, copyrights are often protected in other countries, but patents registered in one country are quite routinely not covered elsewhere. In fact, each country has its own rules and regulations regarding patents and what works in Australia for example may not work elsewhere. Thankfully, there are international patent cooperation treaties, such as the Madrid Protocol, which can enable you to protect your patent in multiple locations in one fell swoop.
Still, filing for patent protection is a formal registration and can be a lengthy and expensive process. You may decide that what you really need is something more straightforward, such as a confidentiality agreement with international partners. This is simply a private, but legally binding agreement and with the right legal advice, it should be a simple enough process. Another important step to protecting your business is to do due diligence on whoever you are working with abroad. Find out as much as you can about them, their financial history and their clients. You need to be able to trust your partners, so put your mind at rest and do the necessary research. Doing business abroad should be extremely exciting, but you must take the correct precautions in order to reap the rewards.
[Image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net