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Asking for a Fight

You have to get tough with transgressors if you want to protect your intellectual property.

This story appears in the January 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Locked doors and a security system protect your equipment, inventory and payroll. But what protects your business's most valuable possessions? Intellectual property laws can protect your trade secrets, trademarks and product design, provided you take the proper steps.

Chicago attorney Kara E.F. Cenar of Welsh & Katz, an intellectual property firm, contends that businesses should start thinking about these issues earlier than most do. "Small businesses tend to delay securing intellectual property protection because of the expense," Cenar says. "They tend not to see the value of intellectual property until a competitor infringes." But a business that hasn't applied for copyrights or patents and actively defended them will likely have trouble making its case in court.

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