Critical Facts About Intellectual Property for Startups

A common trap that most startups fall into is failing to consider intellectual property (IP) early in the business journey. Unfortunately, some startup owners remember this aspect of commercial law when it is already too late and have to deal with the challenges of intellectual property laws. Today, the value of many companies stems from intangible assets; thus, it is vital to think about IP when an idea springs into your mind. However, you first need to understand some critical facts regarding IP law before embarking on your startup journey.

Intangible Assets Go Beyond Trademarks 

When you mention intellectual property, most people only think about trademarks. However, while IP laws cover trademarks, they also protect a wide range of intangible assets. For instance, an advertising tune you composed is considered an intangible asset because it adds value to your business by attracting customers. Thus, you should copyright it so that any business that wants to use it must seek your permission. Similarly, people-based assets, such as your unique skills, relationships and reputation, are considered intangible assets and can be assigned a tangible monetary value. Therefore, you need to think long and hard about using IP laws to protect your startup now and in the future.

Avoid Leaking IP Rights 

If you have an idea that you believe has economic potential, do not let the excitement stop you from conducting due diligence. Regrettably, most startups fall prey to the excitement of progressing their idea and fail to protect it. It often happens during discussions regarding collaborations and investment opportunities. For instance, a startup might inadvertently explain to an investor about the design and functionality of a product before they file for a patent. Such involuntary leakage can lead to serious losses, especially if you deal with investors who do not yet have a track record. Therefore, never talk about your inventions or ideas to another entity unless you have obtained exclusive rights for the same.

Successful IP Protection Requires Full Overview 

Imagine spending time, effort and money to develop a product prototype only to find that there exists a similar product with a pending patent. Sadly, some startups fall victim to such scenarios primarily because they make their applications without considering their invention's technical, legal and commercial aspects. Although your product might be similar to another, you can apply for IP protection on a unique feature of the same product. It means that apart from product competition, you must also consider IP competition (pending patent applications) in the industry. Such due diligence ensures that you have a complete idea of what is in the market before applying for IP protection.

Contact a commercial law consultant to learn more.