Startup founders are creators and innovators. They begin their business because they see a solution to a problem and they want to share it with the world. It’s understandable that these entrepreneurs hold their startups so near and dear to their heart. When you put blood, sweat, and tears into your startup the last thing you want is someone stealing your idea or making it difficult to market.
That’s why it’s important to understand your intellectual property rights, what to do and what not to do. And even more importantly, you need an IP law expert at your side through it all.
Why Protect the IP For Your Startup?
When it comes to your startup, your intellectual property is the idea that started it all. It’s that thought you had at two in the morning that you rushed to write down. It’s the strategy you laid out as you started to brainstorm the business with co-founders. It’s what makes your startup unique — and marketable. Your IP can also be your company logo, even your name.
If you fail to protect your intellectual property, there’s nothing stopping your competition from cornering the market that you’re trying to impact. They may patent a similar product or offer a service similar to yours. Without patents, copyrights, and trademarks, it will be much more difficult to prove that your IP really was yours. If you do protect your IP, however, you’ll be able to present that to court in the event that someone contests it.
- Trade Secrets and Confidential Information – A trade secret is a secret element of your business that have monetary value because of their secrecy and which you take “reasonable efforts” to keep secret. Trade secrets — or any other confidential business information — can be protected through non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) or limiting access to information.
- Inventions – Does your startup revolve around an invention of yours? You’ll want to check the USPTO to ensure that idea hasn’t already been patented before you get carried away. Once you start preparing to launch your business, make sure to patent your invention. By US law, inventors are given one year after their invention goes public to file a patent.
- Authorship – When it comes to your startup, authorship can refer to the content on your website, to the code used to build your app, or the marketing materials you created to promote your business. As soon as you go public with them, you are legally the author of those works. However, it’s best to have a copyright so you can prove that authorship.
- Logo, Brand, and Other Imagery – This can include the pictures used on your website or social media, as well as trademarking your brand.
How You Can Afford To Protect Your IP
When beginning a startup, every expense can feel daunting. It might not seem worth it to pay the filing fees for patents or to hire an IP law attorney to represent you. But it might help you avoid bigger expenses down the line, such as court costs in the event that someone challenges your IP.
One way to save money is to strategize your IP plan. Figure out what you need in the early stages of development so you don’t waste money on what you don’t need. You can also do research on the different filing fees so as to add them into your budget. If you’re working with a startup loan, try to allocate some of that towards your IP protection.
In the event that your IP is threatened, one way to save costs on litigation is to take advantage of Garcia-Zamor’s flat monthly legal fee litigation program. This can make it easier to pan and take away some of the unpredictability in protecting your biggest business investments. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a consultation.