Intellectual property is key to the success of startups-
Startups are the engine that drives innovation in the United States.These businesses generate new ideas at every turn, from the inventions that power the devices we use on a daily basis to the brand names and logos attached to those products.With the right steps in place, companies can convert these ideas and intangible assets into valuable Intellectual Property (IP).Unfortunately, all too many startups stumble out of the blocks on IP issues, adding challenges to their already difficult path to success.
Five intellectual property mistakes startups make and how to avoid them-
Avoiding the common IP mistakes that startups make will increase your company’s chances of defying the odds and excelling where others have failed.
Mistake 1: Underestimating the Importance of Intellectual Property
Mistake 2: Failing To Take the Time To Create An IP Plan
Mistake 3: Not Setting Up Communications
Mistake 4: Failing To Run a Trademark Search
Mistake 5: Not Setting Up Confidentiality Protections.
Trade secret law allows companies to protect confidential business information that has business value. Trade secret protection has been used to protect some of the most valuable business secrets in the world, including the recipes for Coca-Cola and Kentucky Fried Chicken.The key to obtaining and preserving the protection is that the company must take reasonable steps to ensure the confidentiality of the information.The Coca-Cola recipe, for example, is known by only two employees, and the written version is kept in the vault of a bank in Atlanta.
While most confidential information does not require that level of protection, too few startups establish systems and procedures to maintain the confidentiality of their sensitive business information.
A company should have:
- Written agreements with employees that require them to maintain business confidences.
- Policies that put limits on the extent to which employees may transfer sensitive material to personal devices (e.g., rules against sending material to a personal email address).
- Written agreements with outside contractors that require them to maintain business confidences.
- Policies that limit who may access the information.
- Reasonable security protocols (e.g., password-protected computer access) to limit access to the information.
A company that does not have these minimum protections in place risks losing the right to protect its supposedly confidential information as a trade secret.