As a new business, among the most valuable assets you have are your ideas—your intellectual property. IP is the primary impetus behind your growth since it represents the value you add to the market. Without an exclusive hold on your own offering, it’s easy to lose your place in the market along with the growth that accompanies it.
IP matters cover a wide range of intangible assets, not just patents, but those are highly important as well. Here, we’ll go over the various ways startups can keep their intellectual property carefully secured, whether that constitutes an invention, service, trade secret, or business methodology.
Filing a Patent
Naturally, startups are very often founded on ideas, and it’s important to establish your ownership of those ideas. This is done, by and large, by filing for a patent. This will establish in very solid terms that you own the idea and protect you from those who may try to appropriate it for their own ends.
Filing a patent should be done promptly—especially since the U.S., in recent years, began favoring those who file first, rather than those who first invented the product/concept/etc. This means you cannot delay filing for patent protection.
However, once you do file, don’t delay commercializing your invention until the application finishes processing. It can take two years or more in most cases for your patent to issue, so you’re better off working on growing your business, establishing your brand, and building revenue while the approval process takes place.
Keep Good Records
Dates matter when it comes to defending your intellectual property since they can prove you created the idea first. Keep careful track of every iteration of your inventions, art, trademarks, and so forth, recording the dates on which they were conceived, created, and modified.
In the event that someone tries using your IP or challenges your right to it, having these careful records in place will establish your legal ownership while refuting claims to the contrary.
Mind Your People
Often, ideas come from more than one mind, and establishing in writing the role each person had in the idea’s creation is vital to ensuring its full protection. Clearly defining rights of disclosure, usage, and ownership within your organization will prevent those closest to it from trying to profit from a shared idea.
In these cases, contracts and agreements need to be worded correctly in order to ensure minimum exposure to risk.
Move Beyond Patents
Patents are only one aspect of intellectual property. In addition, you’ll want to safeguard the following:
- Company name, which you should claim on all platforms you use
- Copyrights, including photos, images, written materials, and so forth
- Trademarks, including your name, logo, catchphrases, etc.
- Business plans
- Trade secrets, which must be secured with ironclad internal protocols
Ensuring your ideas, business plans, trade secrets, and other organizationally specific information is sufficiently protected can be a tad cumbersome, but it is vital to ensuring growth in today’s market. Hart David Carson, LLP, can provide you with the legal counsel your startup needs in order to keep your IP secure.