Although many entrepreneurs believe that intellectual property protection is overrated, the IP still remains a vital question for all tech startup companies. Depending on the particular branch of the industry, every startup company will eventually have to face dealing with patent registration at one point of the company’s development.
Even major companies, like Tesla, have their doubts. The Tesla, in fact, insisted on portraying patents as invitations to lawsuits. Indeed, the fact that patent trolls are always on a lookout is certainly not helping the cause. A disturbing fact is that more than 68% of patent lawsuits come from non-practicing entities, but we should also consider the cost of not having any form of IP protection.
Protecting intellectual property can reassure patent holders that no other company will use this particular invention to gain profit through a competitive product on the market. Instead, if some other company wants to use any form of the protected material, a licensing fee is in order; assuming that the patent holding company actually wants to sell the product rights to a third party. This is why people love investing in patents, solely because of the strategic purposes.
However, the most influential factor why companies decide to invest time and money in the IP is because of the potential investors. According to the Berkley Patent Survey from 2010, one of the main reasons why entrepreneurs choose to protect their patent is because investors love seeing that sort of initiative and commitment. More than 67% of companies reported that the IP protection was of vital significance for their funding sources.
At the very end, the risk of a lawsuit should be an encouraging reason enough for every company to protect its patents. If you are still not convinced, you should know that Google, for example, owns approximately 51,000 patents. Some of their efforts may seem pointless, but this course of action helped the expansion of their market share. This is yet another reason why a company should choose to protect IP! Here is how and what can be protected.
Before considering any form of branding, acquisition of resources et cetera, a company should spare no expense on legal advice. A patent attorney can lead the entire process of registration on behalf of the company. In the following list, you can find a variety of legal actions that your attorney can execute, depending on the form of the patent.
– Copyright is a legal right that protects the creative form of work and any form of official company content. It ensures distribution and use in the behalf of the patent holding company and provides exclusive rights, usually for a limited period of time.
– A trademark regards recognizable design, usually a logo, a sign or other visual design. This serves solely for the purpose of connecting a particular product to its source and ensures that no one will try to steal the design in question from the company. When you are looking for available URL’s on domain.me, keep those trademarks in mind and try to be innovative.
– Inventions are probably the most complicated part of IP protection, and depending on their structure this is how they can be protected by the law. It is extremely important for startup companies to understand all variations and sorts of patents.
Utility patents are reserved for processes, machines, manufactured goods and useful inventions. In general, a utility patent has to provide some identifiable benefit and is capable of use. This includes technical inventions, computer chips, and other features. For example, if you’ve developed a user-friendly news feed design, like the Facebook news feed, you can apply for a utility patent and protect its further potential use.
A somewhat similar variation of the utility patent is a design patent. This type is applicable for new, non-functional designs embodied in an article of manufacture, and since it doesn’t require any maintenance fees it is a popular choice of many.
Business methods can be patented as well. A certain business model can be registered and protected legally for insurance that other companies and entities won’t mimic the model and become a competition on the market.
Most companies assign their IP to the company, due to possible liability issues. On the other hand, you can choose to implement some of the methods that can help you protect your patent without any official registration and protection of patents. This is how startups revolutionized Intellectual Property.
Nontraditional methods were always popular when it comes to patent protection. Companies like Coca-Cola simply have a secret formula that allows them to distribute their product and not worry about possible infringement. The secret ingredient of WD40 remains a mystery still, because of this innovative method of insurance.
Contemporary startups keep their company secrets through well-designed contracts. One thing that you have to learn to love as an entrepreneur is having everything signed and filed. This refers to investors, partners and employees too.
– Non-disclosure agreement (NDA) or a confidentiality agreement (CA) or any other variation of this legal contract, is an agreement between at least two parties regarding any form of confidential material. This particular model is reserved for partners and investors, but it can also be applied to employees that have access to confidential files. Depending on the type, it can be unilateral or bilateral.
Unilateral NDA refers to a one-way form of a contract that ensures disclosure of information of significance. On the other hand, bilateral NDA is a mutual form of this contract, where all parties secure their piece of information individually. This particular model is popular with merging companies or in joint ventures.
– Non-compete agreement, or a non-compete clause (NCC) refers to a form of a contract between an employer and employees, advisors, consultants, designers, even a receptionist. If there is a risk liability that someone could mimic a particular model, employees with access to valuable information are often obliged to sign a contract and agree that they will not try to enter the market with the same type of product or service.
With this strategy, a company is securing its trade from violation and possible contravention. Everything from details about the service or product to a simple brainstorming process can be protected trough this agreement.
We all strive to offer something new on the market. Innovation is the driving force of contemporary startups, but once you find that unique sale proposal and come up with an idea that will build your brand and your company – you better protect it.