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Intellectual property comes in various formats, including trademarks, copyrights and patents. While most large businesses have created and maintain enforcement on a large intellectual property portfolio, many small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) wait too long into their development to get serious about intellectual property protection. You want to be proactive with intellectual property in the early stages of your business, but protection alone can cost a lot of money in dealing with lawyers specialized in the space.

To make matters worse, the cost and difficulty in enforcing intellectual property rights can place a large burden on SMEs that would rather focus on growth-related opportunities and scaling their business at the lowest cost possible. As a lawyer who handles a lot of intellectual property matters, from trademark filings to infringement litigation, I understand the complexities that many small business owners face in this difficult area of the law.

Here are a few things you should consider in the realm of intellectual property.

What are the biggest challenges with intellectual property protection?

I have worked with many companies in protecting their valuable intellectual property within the U.S. After filing for protection in the U.S., they often realize that, as they grow internationally, a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office trademark registration only goes so far. Specifically, it only goes as far as the borders of the U.S.

Abroad, there are many infringers, particularly residing in China, who could care less about your U.S. federal registration and will rush to file a similar application to the registration you own, but in their jurisdiction. This often leads to issues with regard to rights to sell in that jurisdiction and ends up costing a lot of money.

The key is to map out where you plan on selling your goods and services, and be proactive about getting filings into those jurisdictions as early as possible.