A new idea or invention is an exciting prospect. There are so many future possibilities—so many avenues to pursue. But first, how do you protect what belongs to you? How do you safeguard your intellectual property?

The first instinct may be to apply for one of the four official intellectual property protections. These include:

  • Patents
  • Trade marks
  • Copyrights
  • Trade secrets

However, is this always the best option? Doing so will reveal your idea and/or method to the world, creating opportunity for copycats to mimic your results—in a way that gets around your protections legally.

What are some alternate ways to protect your intellectual property aside from “naming and claiming” it? According to the Forbes Technology Council, there are nine unconventional methods you can employ:

  • Standardize your idea with a standards association, preventing others from generating the same idea.
  • Move fast. Technology moves apace, and you need to move with it—or even ahead of it—when you have something new to offer the market. Keep inventing and moving forward at breakneck speed.
  • Distribute the workload. Separate the different parts of a project within your company so that no one department has access to the whole. This protects the composition and integrity of the product.
  • Open-source your innovation. It seems strange, but sometimes claiming it is the best thing you can do. Then focus on adding proprietary value.
  • Get exact domain names. Protect your property or trademark by securing its home online before anyone else can.
  • Secure access control. A password is not enough. Your intellectual property should be stored securely with a minimum of two-factor authentication protection.
  • Non-disclosure agreements. Make sure your agreements with employees and researchers are airtight to protect your intellectual property.
  • Keep it quiet. Design the system to keep the specs hidden and maintain secrecy for as long as possible.
  • Go loud and proud, giving credit where it’s due. Attribute the proper creator clearly and support your claim online so it’s all on the record.

Remember, once an innovation reaches the market, it will naturally generate iteration after iteration. Make sure to retain the rights and credit for your intellectual property by whatever method you choose, be it conventional or unorthodox.