How Startups Can Protect Their Intellectual Property

Intellectual property protection

If you think you’ve got a million-dollar idea for a startup, chances are you’ve been busy meeting potential investors or partners, or collaborating with fellow entrepreneurs. Of course, this requires you to pitch to them your idea in order to persuade them to invest in your company.

However, the more people you share your ideas with, the greater the risk of falling victim to intellectual property theft. So, it’s vital for every startup to invest in intellectual property protection strategies such as securing a patent, copyrights, or trademarks.

Don’t be complacent in thinking that an early-stage startup doesn’t need IP protection. Investing in the right coverage now will give you exclusive rights to your concept ensuring that other people or companies won’t be using it without your permission.

So, before you begin pitching to investors, take a look at these 4 intellectual property protection strategies that will help prevent your idea from being stolen:

1. Identify

Before you can protect your IP, you first have to clearly identify and understand everything about it – from the smallest detail such as your logo to your trade secrets. Create a detailed list of everything you developed including:

  • Your logo
  • Your concept, product, or invention
  • Your business and product names
  • Your startup’s catchphrase or tagline
  • Your startup’s web copy

Once you’ve listed all the valuable attributes of your IP, it’ll be easy for you to identify whether each item is cross-licensed to another company, or whether you’ve disclosed any of your IP’s attributes to anyone.

2. Own

As much as you’d like to think that your concept is entirely unique, there is always a chance that someone else beat you to it. Or, it’s also possible that the people you collaborated with to help you develop your idea could try to claim ownership over your ideas.

For this reason, before you even plan to make a move and file for a patent application make sure that you do your research and investigate the products/services that already exist in your industry, and that you alone have full control over the concept.

3. Protect

The process of formally protecting intellectual property can be quite complex, and there are a lot of different options, including:

  • Patent: The first protection strategy you should consider is to file for a patent. However, since IP law is complicated it’s best to hire a patent attorney to help you navigate the application process. In addition, they can help you develop the best possible IP strategy for your company to ensure that you have valid patent protection.

  • Trademark: It’s not just your concept or product that you have to protect. Remember, everything about your IP, from the smallest detail up to the most complicated, should be protected, including your trademark. Trademark protection can be acquired by registering your startup’s logo or design, which gives you or your company the sole right to use it.

  • Copyright: Another intellectual property protection strategy is copyright registration. Copyright gives you, as the owner of the IP, all the rights to reproduce or use your work. One example is your web copy, which of course you would want to be copyright protected, anyone publishes or uses your content without your permission can be sued for copyright infringement.

4. Insure

There is no one policy for intellectual property insurance, however, there are several different policies that, when combined, will give you comprehensive coverage.

Professional Liability insurance, sometimes known as Errors & Omissions insurance, Cyber Liability, and Media Liability policies will keep you covered against infringements on your trade secrets, patents, copyrights, trademarks, product packaging, advertisements, and marketing ideas.

Final Thoughts

As a startup founder, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of launching a company. With so much to get done, it can be easy to forget about an intellectual property protection strategy.

But, your IP serves as the backbone of your company so it’s important to protect it as soon as possible. Once you have an intellectual property protection strategy in place it will give you the peace of mind that you need to focus on growing your startup.


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