It is always said “Prevention is better than cure”, same is with Intellectual Property Laws. If you take certain precautionary steps, you can save yourselves from legal hassles and huge legal costs. Intellectual property has plenty of benefits for startups and getting it sorted out will help your business to succeed. But unfortunately, many startups still fall for some of the common hurdles when it comes to IP.
Why does it matter?
There are a number of reasons for paying attention to the importance of IP. In short, the proper implementation of intellectual property will provide a startup with:
Protection – IP will provide a startup more protection against copycats. This in turn, will naturally provide more leverage against competition. Other businesses won’t be able to use your brilliant business idea and benefit from it. You’ll be legally protected – in case someone uses your product ideas without permission, you’ll have the law on your side and you can seek compensation. You won’t need to worry about a costly lawsuit, such as the one filed against Facebook.
Security – The business will enjoy more security against theft, for example, once IP is sorted. Furthermore, appropriate IP can protect your customers as well, as they are purchasing from a legitimate company that upholds their consumer rights. It also guarantees counterfeit products don’t become a headache you need to deal with down the road.
Leverage with investors – Another big benefit for startups is the improved attractiveness to investors, if you have sorted out IP rights. Investors know it adds more value to your startup and seeking financing is much easier once you have IP sorted out. This doesn’t necessarily mean a fully planned and organized IP system, but you should show investors that you at least understand the importance of IP and know how to go about achieving it.
COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID WITH INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
1. Assuming its unimportant
Among the biggest mistakes you can make is to assume IP doesn’t matter. Fixing your IP rights after you’ve already been operating the business will be a long process and not often even possible. For example, for a patent application to go through, the idea needs to have been out of public knowledge
2.Not doing sufficient research
Research isn’t just crucial in order to protect your intellectual property against other people using it. While it is naturally important to guarantee your intellectual property isn’t stolen and you are protected in the long-term, proper research can also save you from breaching another’s IP rights.
3.Rushing through the process
Many startups do understand the importance of sorting out IP. The problem is that many of them then decide to get it all sorted out quickly, without paying enough attention to the whole process. Sorting out IP matters won’t happen overnight and you don’t want to make mistakes by rushing your project. 4. Waiting too long
On the other hand, you can’t sit still and ponder about the IP issues forever. Especially if your startup is already running test or marketing groups and you are involving other people in the process. You need to act swiftly to ensure it isn’t too late to start protecting your intellectual property.
In most countries, applications for intellectual property rights have deadlines. For instance, a patent often must be filed within one year of it being printed, disclosed or offered to be sold. Similar time periods are in use around the globe so you need to make sure you start looking into intellectual property as soon as you have your business idea.
5.Using DIY strategies
The Internet is great for finding out more about legal proceedings and the processes behind setting up a business. Technology has empowered many entrepreneurs to take back more control. Using these online guides and tips can be a great way to save your business some money.
HAVING PROBLEM WITH NAME
Many startups also make the mistake of checking out a domain name and if it’s free, they assume the business can be registered with that name. Furthermore, many assume that by registering their business, the trademark of the name is also covered. But this doesn’t automatically happen; you need to register both – often separately.When you are planning to start a business and you come up with a name, run a domain check and a business registration check. If
SIGNINIG THE WRONG CONTRACTS
Startups tend to be organic and often have a structure of informality. While these can be great in fostering innovation and ideas, you still need to make sure the formal aspects of running a business are taken care of appropriately.It is easy to overlook the importance of having your intellectual property rights sorted and then including these into all agreements you sign with your employees and your business partners.When you are preparing the documents and contracts, again, professional help is often needed. A DIY approach to contracts can result in omitting certain information and you might not cover all the essential points.
You also shouldn’t assume the documents you find on the Internet are appropriate to use. Sometimes this ‘copy & paste’ approach can lead to many problems.
FORGETTING ABOUT TRADE SECRET
Many startup ideas and products have their foundation elsewhere. Perhaps you were working for a technology employer and suddenly came up with a great idea for your own business. Companies, especially the big ones, are aggressive in protecting their intellectual property – as they should. Forgetting about trade secrets such as this cannot just cost money for your startup, you might be found to be criminally liable for the breach.
USING OPEN SOURSE SOFTWARE
If your project uses open source, even in small bits, you might need to disclose the source code to your competitors. This might mean you cannot file for intellectual property protection.
The best option is to avoid using open source software altogether. If you must use it, you should consult a legal advisor before the final decision to guarantee you won’t hurt your business by doing so.
If you want to protect your startup and ensure it has the best possibilities to succeed, you need to make sure you pay attention to intellectual property rights.
Figuring out what your business needs is going to be easier to do right from the start, as it can prevent you from making mistakes or allowing other people to benefit from your ideas.