You’ve got an innovative idea in mind. This time you’re sure it’s the one that will take your business to the summit of success. Maybe it is, and that’s why you better be super careful when dealing with intellectual property.
The level of your excitement is understandable but before you start talking about your idea right and left, make sure it is protected legally. Here are five tips on how to protect intellectual property.
Understand your intellectual property type
Lots of time, hard work, and attorney fees – this what will take you to acquire a patent. It’s a hard job really. So before diving into the process, make sure you are on the right track.
It’s important to determine in advance what type of intellectual property protection you need for your industry. For some industries, it might take longer than others. Consider telecommunication products, those stay in the market for decades, therefore, requiring a long-lasting patent.
On the contrary, the retail industry is changing very fast. So a patent for it can be filed late in the creation process.
Once you have decided which type of intellectual property protection it’s still better to start the process early on in order for your business and work process to have a secure foundation.
If your idea is big, you don’t want to be worried about patents in the midst of creative chaos.
Looking for a place to start? File a provisional patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) before proceeding to a formal application. It is going to provide you with temporary IP protection with less hassle and expense. However, you still need to contact a professional before making the decision.
Be clear about ownership rights
It’s one thing when you’re working completely on your own. But if your business idea was born not without the help of a couple of people, ownership disputes may arise.
Acknowledge the other brains behind the work and have a joint copyright. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, joint copyright owners have the right to equally enforce the copyright and get an equal share of the proceeds. Unless there is a written agreement between the two that deviates from the rule.
Likewise, you might have hired a team for your startup that produces lots of content for you. So to prevent any misunderstandings have a written contract that specifies that the company has full rights over the content they produce.
Have a nondisclosure agreement
Before everything is secure legally, keep the information flow regarding your intellectual property shut. Maybe you are desperately searching for angel investors, good luck with that but be careful not to give away too many details in the process.
Sensitive ideas can fall under the risk easily. Show those only to parties that have agreed to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) also known as a confidentiality agreement. Signing the contract would mean that they cannot disclose any of the information without your consent. It’s an extra layer of protection you should have.
The patent filing is not free. In fact, it’s expensive. So divide your spending strategically – try to keep them to a minimum. Focus most of your efforts on strategic intellectual property protection.
In your dreams, you’ve already entered the international market. But let’s be real. First, you need to get done with domestic patent filings. And when you finally earn the fame you wish, then you can think of international filings.
Get legal help
If your idea is a true hit, it’s worth investing in it. Otherwise, it might be too late. An experienced business law attorney will help you handle the process allowing you more creative freedom.
Going through copyright and patent filings takes time and demands patience on your side. But you know what that means, don’t you? You can continue polishing your idea to perfection day and night.
Do not let the legal side of the matter distract you. Remeber you have to be in touch with your potential customers. Ask yourself whether what you plan to accomplish is in demand and if yes, how you can your idea not only be new but unique. Good luck!