Intellectual property (IP) is a primary business component for many entrepreneurs. However, intellectual property differs from other company assets in the way that it is not tangible. Since it is not a piece of physical property, many entrepreneurs neglect to realize its value. As a result, they fail to protect it and lose any advantage they had over their competitors.
However, intellectual property protection is very important in entrepreneurship. To refrain from making the common mistakes, here are the best ways to protect intellectual property for startups.
1. Develop An IP Strategy.
In order to protect intellectual property properly, you need to develop an IP strategy. As with many business plans, there are many necessary elements to include in your strategy. For instance, your first step must be to determine all of your intellectual property assets. Such assets can include copyrights, trademarks, and industrial designs. Then, create timelines for how you will protect your assets and how you will enforce any infringements on your property. Develop an IP strategy so you have a set plan to follow throughout your startup. If done well, your strategy will ensure IP protection.
2. Conduct A Trademark Search.
Another way to protect intellectual property for startups is to conduct a trademark search. Many entrepreneurs run into legal issues when they fail to conduct a search. They put themselves in a vulnerable situation. If you design a trademark that has already been registered, you could create a liability. Consumers will have a hard time differentiating your business from the other business with the same trademark. Furthermore, the company who had already registered the trademark could take legal measures to eliminate this conflict. Protect intellectual property and your startup as a whole by conducting a trademark search before creating new claims.
3. Separate Employment Work.
Entrepreneurs who separate employment work from their new innovations need to understand intellectual property law. When entrepreneurs do not make this separation, they overwhelm themselves with conflicting obligations. Many employees sign confidentiality agreements upon accepting a job. If you signed such an agreement, your work at your job can interfere with protecting your intellectual property. If your idea relates to the work you do for your employer, you cannot legally protect your IP. In fact, the employer could claim rights to the IP. When employees try to claim protection under this circumstance, they break the contract that they signed. To guarantee that your obligations do not collide with one another, ensure that your job does not relate to your startup idea.
4. File For Patent Protection Early.
You can also protect intellectual property by filing for patent protection prior to disclosing your idea. If you file for a patent after public disclosure, you could potentially lose your patent rights. Public disclosure includes any non-confidential disclosure. With that being said, even speaking to your friends or family about your idea puts you at risk. In order to navigate the patent process, you may have to work with an intellectual property law group. According to A.E.I. Law, “a professional law group can assist you with the appropriate registrations and protocols for protecting these assets.” In the beginning, your startup can file a provisional patent to start presenting to investors. With the proper support, your startup can file for a patent application and protect the property as the business gets going.
5. Write A Contributors Agreement.
Additionally, write a contributors agreement to protect intellectual property during your startup process. Many businesses begin with assistance from multiple professionals. After all, it is easier to develop and generate ideas in a group than it is on your own. However, group thinking often leads to disputes regarding intellectual property. To ensure that you do not have to deal with such disputes, establish a contributors agreement at the beginning of your startup. Have each contributor agree to their intellectual property input for your invention. Then, you will keep yourself out of legal trouble down the road.
Keep your intellectual property safe by taking necessary steps during your startup process. Firstly, develop an IP strategy that includes timelines for you to follow. Conduct a trademark search to ensure that your new idea is genuine. Do not work any jobs that could create obligation conflicts. Before publicly disclosing your idea non-confidentially, file for patent protection. You may need the assistance of a professional intellectual property law firm to acquire and enforce a patent. Finally, establish a contributors agreement to eliminate future disputes. These are the best ways to manage intellectual property for startups.