IP Do’s and Don’ts: Intellectual Property Protection

A company’s intellectual property is a valuable asset in today’s innovation-driven economy. IP encompasses ideas, inventions, brands, trade secrets, and creative works that give organizations a competitive edge.  Ensuring the protection of these assets is a collective duty shared by every employee within the organization.

Whether you are a seasoned professional in your field or just starting out, our Employee Checklist can serve as a valuable roadmap for responsible intellectual property practices in the workplace.


How to Protect Our Intellectual Property (IP)


  • Document Your Work: Keep detailed records of your work including code, designs, lab books, and innovations.  Clearly document individual contributions when collaborating.
  • Understand Confidential Information (CI) and Trade Secret Obligations: Familiarize yourself with company CI and trade secret policies to understand your obligations during employment and after employment.
  • Understand IP Ownership: Check employment contracts and company policies to understand the extent of your IP ownership rights and obligations.
  • Attend IP Training: Attend IP training sessions and take notes to familiarize yourself with IP practices.
  • Consult Legal Team: Seek legal advice if IP obligations are unclear or if complex IP issues arise.
  • Use Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs): Always use NDAs in discussions with external parties.
  • Secure CI and Trade Secrets: Safeguard sensitive information to prevent unauthorized access, including access by cleaning staff (e.g., wipe down whiteboards).
  • Monitor Third-Party IP: Remain aware of what competitors are doing in your field, and work with your team and IP specialists to avoid falling afoul of others’ patents and designs.  Document your searches and report anything pertinent to management.


  • Don’t Assume Ownership: Do not assume everything you create at work automatically belongs to you.
  • Don’t Ignore Third-Party IP and Open Source Licenses: Do not ignore the terms and conditions of licenses, collaborations, partnerships, and open source licenses.
  • Don’t Disclose Inventions: Do not disclose inventions or developments publicly without obtaining proper IP protection or proper NDAs.  You cannot patent what is published or shown publicly.  Even a sales meeting, a conversation at trade show, or an offer for sale could be a disclosure.
  • Don’t Disclose CI and Trade Secrets: Do not disclose trade secrets under any circumstances.
  • Don’t Delay Reporting: Do not delay in reporting potential IP issues. Time is of the essence!

If you are interested in creating a comprehensive IP strategy for your workplace or have any questions about your current IP practices, do not hesitate to contact one of our experts today!