Launching a startup can be overwhelming – from hiring the right employees, developing an effective and impactful website to sourcing business. With multiple initiatives competing for bandwidth, it's easy to neglect your organization's most valuable assets—intellectual property (IP).
Why Should You Have an IP Strategy for Your Startup?
IP is the foundation of your business, and ignoring it can be a costly mistake. The moment you begin laying the framework of your business is the moment you should develop a strategy for your IP. Organizations neglecting to ensure their IP is protected risk conflict and controversy, and possible loss of precious rights to the IP in question.
5 Steps to Ensure IP Alignment
Although there is no one-size-fits all strategy, the steps below will help you formulate an integrated strategy that aligns with your business goals:
- Determine your target market.
- Identify key technologies applicable to it.
- Pinpoint valuable IP you control for your company's product(s).
- Identify the organizations or individuals who may be filing and/or licensing or dealing in patents and other IP in that market.
- Determine optimal strategies for protecting the IP you control.
At The Law Office of Philip P. Crowley LLC, we will thoroughly evaluate your business and guide you in the strategic development of your IP strategy. Our goal is to help you protect your IP, mitigate risk, align your business strategy with goals and objectives, and avoid future conflict and disputes.
It's Never Too Early to Set Your IP Strategy
Even if you are still in the process of developing your idea, IP is relevant. For example, if you are currently working for an employer and developing your idea on the side, the idea could become the intellectual property of your employer. Similarly, if you are working on the idea with multiple people, it is important to have clear written agreements in place, defining each contributor's IP rights. Failing to have proper agreements in place from the very beginning can result in controversy, conflict, and serious expense down the road.
Equally as important is to evaluate and understand the type of protection your IP requires. The copy of your IP strategy should integrate multiple factors, including your target market, your IP assets and your plan for commercialization. Patents, copyrights, and trademarks are all forms of IP, and an experienced business attorney can help you determine which type(s) are best suited to your unique needs.
- Patents: Patents offer the most protection, but the patenting process can be extremely costly and time-consuming, and not all inventions are eligible for this form of protection.
- Copyrights: Copyrights generally protect creative works, such as art, text and computer code, and obtaining a copyright gives you the exclusive right to make copies of the protected work.
- Trademarks: protect a word, slogan, symbol, or name that is associated with your business. For example, if your business is Bob's Twisty Pretzels, you might consider obtaining a trademark on the slogan, “Get twisted with Bob.”