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I've been on a search for the perfect fried chicken sandwich, trying just about everything from Chick-Fil-A and Carl's Jr. to local spots and food trucks. I have yet to make it to Church's, but based on one ex-employee's legal claim, maybe I need to give their "Pechu Sandwich" a try.

Norberto Colón Lorenzana attempted to patent what I assumed was a classic staple of American cuisine, claiming he invented it in 1991. But a federal court shut him down, saying the fried chicken sandwich could not be copyrighted, meaning restaurants, drive thrus, and food trucks are free to keep cranking out deliciousness without paying Lorenzana royalties.

It says it right there on the label: "Die Weltmarke Mit Den 3 Streifen," or, "The Brand With the Three Stripes." In fact, those three stripes have been synonymous with the adidas brand for so long, you'd think they wouldn't even need to trademark it.

But they have, and now adidas America has filed a federal lawsuit against Forever 21, claiming the fashion retailer is selling apparel with adidas's signature "Three Stripe Mark."

You didn't come up with that fantastic business plan just to have someone else do it first. And you didn't invent that device so that someone else could sell it without paying you.

The business world can be a cut-throat industry, so how do you make sure someone else doesn't steal your best business ideas? You turn to intellectual property laws. Here are three IP laws and how to use them to protect your business:

These days, most small businesses would have their Internet domains reserved before they even signed the incorporation papers. In fact, I'm sure many companies failed to even launch because a url or Twitter handle was already taken.

But that wasn't always the case. Back in the old days, folks would just start a business, give it the name they wanted, and wait a few decades until Al Gore invented the Internet. Then some computer geek could sit on thousands of domain names and wait for the company to buy it from him. So how do you your company's Internet identity back from these domain squatters?

Technology has consistently made our favorite music more mobile. Music streaming sites like Pandora and Spotify allow us to have our own soundtrack everywhere we go. Businesses are also taking advantage of streaming sites. By now we've all seen a bartender or a barista with their phone plugged into the sound system, setting the mood for the establishment.

But is this kosher, legally? Are there different rules for streaming Pandora at a business?

Businesses complain about it all the time: having to defend themselves against patent trolls and frivolous litigation. But many business owners are still in the dark about what exactly a patent troll is, how they operate, and why small businesses should be worried about them.

Patent trolls don't only go after giant corporations like Apple and White Castle. They can also stop a startup in its tracks. So here is how patent trolls work and how you can protect your small business.

Whether in your advertising or in your shop decor, you may want to use a striking image or fantastic photo that you found. But be careful: the image may be copyrighted, and without a license to use the image, you may be committing copyright infringement.

"But," you say, "copyright licenses can be expensive, and my business doesn't make that much, and besides no one will probably know." All fair points, but none a proper legal defense. So here are some ideas if you want to use images but can't afford licensing fees:

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," or so they say. But when a giant retailer copies your t-shirt design, is that flattery or actual copyright infringement?

Work-at-home fashion designer Melissa Lay discovered Target is selling a nearly identical tank top to one that she printed in her garage for her Etsy store. She admits she didn't copyright the design, but could she still have a claim?

Today's employees are a fickle bunch. They come and they go. Sometimes they go taking a little bit more with them than when they came.

It is not uncommon for businesses to hire employees away from their competitors. Losing an employee hurts because you'll have to do interviews, find another employee, and then train them all over again. But, losing an employee can hurt even more if that ex-employee is using your trade secrets to steal your clients or copy your products and technology.

So, what can you do if an ex-employee is using your trade secrets?

Jack Daniel's has long been one of the most aggressive companies when it comes to defending its brand. Most recently, it successfully defended a state law that legally defined "Tennessee whiskey" -- a phrase featured prominently on Jack Daniel's bottles -- as charcoal-filtered, corn-based whiskey aged in new barrels -- a process almost unique to the Jack Daniel's distillery.

And while proactively defending the distinguishing trademarks and characteristics of your business is admirable (and sometimes necessary), some companies have been known to go overboard, and garner some negative attention. So how do you find the right balance when protecting your business image?