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Businesses often have important "intellectual property" that needs protection from competitors for the company to stay profitable. This could require patents, copyrights, trademarks, or preservation of trade secrets. Most businesses have names, logos, and similar branding techniques that could benefit from trademarking. Patents and copyrights in the United States are largely governed by federal law, while trade secrets and trademarking are mostly a matter of state law. Because of the nature of intellectual property, a business needs protection in every jurisdiction in which they are concerned about competitors. Many countries are signatories to international treaties concerning intellectual property, and thus companies registered in these countries are subject to national laws bound by these treaties. In order to protect trade secrets, companies may require employees to sign noncompete clauses which will impose limitations on an employee's interactions with stakeholders, and competitors.

In legal parlance, the owners of a company are normally referred to as the "members". In a company limited or unlimited by shares (formed or incorporated with a share capital), this will be the shareholders . In a company limited by guarantee, this will be the guarantors. Some offshore jurisdictions have created special forms of offshore company in a bid to attract business for their jurisdictions. Examples include " segregated portfolio companies " and restricted purpose companies.

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