A startup basically equals its product. In most cases, this intellectual property (IP) is not protected well enough because entrepreneurs have a million other issues to deal with. Entrepreneurship can get hectic at first so countless businessmen forget to take care of the legal issues of protecting their IP. The same rules apply to purchasing digital property such as a phone app since you can easily get tricked into buying a (virtual) knock-off. There are tricksters in all spheres of life and unfortunately, entrepreneurship is no different. In order to protect the intellectual property of you and your diligent team, you should go through this short guide we have compiled just for you.
A bit of research
The most important thing about intellectual property and patents that you have to realize is that it is unique and original. Take the time to research the market for similar products. This research will confirm that what you have created is 100% authentic and that it should be protected as such. Apart from a general online search, don’t forget to go through patent records to see if a similar patent had been reported in recent years. Because there are so many developers worldwide, it is often the case that the team that registers the same product first gets the rights for reproduction. After a bit of research, the next logical step then would be to define your product.
Have you identified what you want to protect?
Nearly everything can fall under the category of intellectual property. A prototype of a humanoid robot, a slogan, or a business idea can all become subject to intellectual theft. In order to have a strong case against potential counterfeiting, you need to clearly define what you are protecting. The description can be made using words, images, and videos alike.
Since you are not trying to delineate a physical patent, this can be hard at times but if all departments of your company work close together they should be able to pull it off. Remember, search for what is special in your products that separates it from the rest. The better you describe the traits of the property you wish to protect, the better will your IP lawyers be able to help you.
Hiring good IP lawyers
Patents and intellectual property are essentially legal issues that you are not versed at. That’s why hiring IP lawyers is mandatory if you wish to efficiently protect your intellectual property. If you are happy with their work in protecting the app your startup developed, for example, then you might wish to hire them for other business ventures as well. Trading in patents is very profitable nowadays, so IP lawyers can help you with drafting a favorable business purchase agreement that can bring huge profits to your enterprise. Furthermore, such specialized law firms will help you reduce the risk of each purchase by advising you on whether to make the acquisition in the first place.
Keep potential investors in the dark
If you are seeking financing for the development of your product, then you will have to pitch it to potential investors. This means that you will have to reveal how it operates. However, you don’t have to reveal all the details, as your presentation should be focused on the user experience, not the technical details. If you are still worried about potential leaks, you can ask potential investors to sign a non-disclosure agreement, stating that everything they hear from you will not leave the room. This will send a clear message that your intellectual property is worth the investment since you are keeping the technology secret. Also, employees and contractors should be made to sign an NDA as well, because the technology they work with is not their own, although they are active participants in its creation.
All the while we have spoken about the protection of your intellectual property with national boundaries. The legislative of a single country offers a safe legal system that has courts that guarantee that your patent is safe. However, international players are not inhibited by your national laws to ape your technology. That is why the protection ring around your IP should extend beyond national borders. Consult the law firm you’ve hired about developing a protective strategy suited for international law.
Don’t patent everything
Protecting the intellectual property of a startup is somewhat easy. In the beginning, it all revolves around a single product or a service that needs protection. However, over time you are expected to grow the array of your business and turn a profit. Used to protect your intellectual property, you are bound to overexaggerate. As we stated earlier, you need to identify what is unique about your product or service. If the product is branded but generic in nature, then there is no need to patent it. Good IP lawyers are necessary but their service costs money so be sure to protect only the most valuable assets of your company, ones that your business would go down the chute.
Your startup could have the most original of ideas and the best tech to turn them into reality but they will be in vain if you get ripped off. That is why the protection of your intellectual property matter and that is why it’s important which IP law firm you choose.