October 4, 2022

Volume XII, Number 277


October 03, 2022

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Intellectual Property: Understand It to Protect What You Own, Drive Value to Your Business and Positively Impact Your Bottom Line

Intellectual Property (or “IP”) is commonly defined as a group of legal rights that provide protection over things people and businesses create or invent. It might sound straightforward, but there is a lot of confusion over what can actually be protected and what cannot.

Who needs to be concerned with IP Protection?

We’ve all heard the phrase, “hindsight is 20/20”. That’s especially true when it comes to IP protection. So often people and businesses do not realize a new creation or innovation should be protected until it is too late. If you are creating or developing within your space, you need to have an IP strategy to avoid any unintentional disclosure missteps. And, when you are creating, be careful to:

  • Make records. They should be accurate, dated, and corroborated.

  • Research the competitive landscape early and identify both opportunities for protection and risks of infringement.

  • Use a non-disclosure agreement or contract before collaborating with another business or other people, such as consultants.

What are some of the biggest IP challenges business owners and employers need to overcome?

The goal for your IP strategy needs to be: Identify, Protect, Monetize.  The question business owners need to answer is how they can most effectively achieve this. The first step is understanding the applicable types of IP that are protectible and the steps needed to secure protection  of each.

Intellectual Property Type

The Value

Trade Secret

No registration fees or costs. Goes into effect upon creation and can last forever. Protection available at the state and federal levels.

Non-Disclosure Agreement/Contract (or “NDA”)

Very affordable and flexible but, it only binds the contracting parties. An NDA should be used with your employees and other businesses you deal with concerning sensitive business information.




Free and automatic upon creation, register for significant added value. Protection available only at the federal level and registration is required to enforce protection.


Commercial differentiation, quality identifier and price enhancement. Low cost and can last forever but must police others’ misuse.

How can an IP strategy affect your bottom line?

It’s important to understand there is no “one-size fits all” approach to IP. The correct IP strategy must be tailored to your unique business. While some businesses may be overspending on a scattered approach to protecting IP, other businesses may not be investing enough and potential losing out on what could have been an important revenue stream.

© 2022 Davis|Kuelthau, s.c. All Rights ReservedNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 117

About this Author

Michael J. Bendel Intellectual Property Attorney Davis Kuelthau
Senior Attorney

Mike is passionate about helping others achieve tangible results with intangible property rights. He works with makers, creators, and innovators to discover the value in their ideas and manage their intellectual property (IP) estates to optimize their assets and opportunities.

Mike started his career as an IP attorney in the upper level of an award-winning renovated barn where he worked alongside three colleagues – and above an aromatic working horse stable.  He went on to join Kimberly-Clark Corporation as a patent attorney and IP counsel and...

Alexis M. Merbach Intellectual Property Attorney Davis Kuelthau law firm Appleton

Alexis “Ali” Merbach is a member of Davis|Kuelthau’s Corporate Team in Appleton focusing primarily on intellectual property law.  Alexis specializes in protecting confidential information and intellectual property for businesses and individuals, with specific focus on trademarks, licensing, data privacy, e-commerce, and web-based marketing and contracting.  Alexis has experience drafting and prosecuting patents; drafting, reviewing, and negotiating technology- or software-based agreements; and has helped clients secure a variety of federal trademark registrations.

Joseph S. Heino, trademark law, intellectual property law, Davis & Kuelthau, Milwaukee attorney

Joe is a registered U.S. Patent Attorney and a shareholder with the firm. He is experienced in all areas of intellectual property law, including patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret law, as well as licensing and franchising. Joe represents a wide range of clients in the local, regional and national manufacturing and service sectors and helps those clients build fences around their intellectual property, allowing them to maintain technological and market advantages over their competitors throughout the world and in cyberspace.

His background and experience involves...