Today’s small businesses can learn a lot from the Petraeus’ scandal when it comes to protecting their intellectual property assets.  Petraeus demonstrates the damage that can be done to an organization when valuable information is not adequately protected.  In entrepreneurial communities like Wichita, an ever increasing percentage of the value of businesses is tied up in intellectual property, or “IP”.  Unfortunately, many leave their IP without adequate protection, exposing themselves to potential damage from a rogue employee or business relationship gone bad. This exposure can result from assuming that the IP is protected by law, not realizing it needs protection, or not realizing the IP exists at all.

IP encompasses four general areas: trademarks, patents, copyrights and trade secrets. A common type of IP that is overlooked by many business owners is trade secrets: a customer list, for example, or recipes, processes, etc. can be “trade secrets” and, as such, are IP that can be owned by a business and should be carefully protected.

“The greatest risk to many small businesses is the loss of their IP because they didn’t adequately protect it,” says Jeff Peier of Klenda Austerman LLC.  A good business attorney can help you proactively protect your business in two significant ways (1) through the registration process, and (2) through drafting strong contracts.  Trademarks, patents and copyrights can all be registered in some fashion, and there are important legal rights that result from such registrations.  Contracts are crucial to protecting trade secrets and controlling the ownership and legal rights in other kinds of IP.

If you have questions about this article or any other business law matter, please contact Jeff Peier at, Greg Klenda at, Scott Eads at or Sam Foreman at, or  by calling 316-267-0331.



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