What Every Small Business Owner Needs to Know about patents, trademark and copyright.   If you own a business, it’s very likely that you own some kind of intellectual property. For instance, have you, or someone who works for you, written a software program to facilitate work? Invented a tool or widget to improve efficiency? Written an instruction manual regarding a specialized business process? If so, and especially if any of these falling into the hands of your competitor would damage your business, then you should protect it, just as you protect your office equipment from theft by locking the doors at night. The purpose of intellectual property law is to protect certain intangible creations of the mind and the most common means of protection are patent, trademark and copyright.