In 1999, Apple purchased a new domain name: iPhone.org. At the time, Apple was known for making laptops — and their popularity had been in decline. Steve Jobs had started to save the company’s profitability by introducing the iMac and later the iBook, a consumer laptop. But Jobs had bigger plans for Apple, plans to introduce Apple’s first phone, which would soon after its release be referred to as “a game changer in the industry.”
Those plans, however, didn’t come to fruition until 2007, eight years after the domain was purchased. Jobs knew that the iPhone would take time, and he didn’t want any of the competition to get a headstart on his idea. So he prepared by protecting his IP years before the phone would be released.
Do you have a game-changing idea? Make sure you take steps to protect your IP as early as possible.
Why You Should Protect Your IP Sooner Rather Than Later
We all get excited about our new ideas at first. You want to tell everyone about them. From a funding perspective, sometimes you need to get the word out there and get other people excited about your idea in order to get it off the ground. But that can also make your idea vulnerable.
The truth is, it can take years to move from concept to release. Even waiting for your patent to be granted can take two years or more. In the meantime, what if someone else registers the web domain you’d had your eye on? What if someone in the same industry comes up with a brand name that is too similar to the name you wanted to use? Or what if, while you’re still workshopping your idea, a potential investor who turned you down starts backing a very similar idea?
The sooner you protect your IP, in whatever steps you can, the more confident you can be in the security of your idea even while you develop it.
What Can You Do To Protect Your IP Ahead Of Time?
There are a few steps that you can take to protect your IP ahead of time. Step one is to hire an intellectual property attorney as soon as you know that this is something you want to pursue. Your attorney can help walk you through the next steps of protecting your IP before anyone else can get their hands on it. Some of those next steps include:
- Registering a web domain. Just like Apple with the iPhone. A unique web domain will be a must once your idea is released. It should be consistent with the rest of your brand. If you wait too long with this step, it can be all too possible for someone to take the name you hoped to use.
- Trademark names and brand elements. Business names, product names, and logos can all be trademarked, as long as they are unique and recognizable. It can take about 12-18 months for a trademark registration to go through. Your attorney can file the registration as soon as possible so that when you need it, your brand will be trademarked.
- Register an Entity. Your attorney can also help by registering an entity for your business. You can register your business as a sole proprietor, an LLC, a corporation, or a partnership. Setting up a DBA is also a good idea at this point.
- Patent Application. Draft blueprints and discuss with your attorney how to present your invention in the patent application. They can then draft and file your application with the USPTO while you’re still early on in the process.
- Draft an NDA. Need to involve other people in your process? Having your attorney draft a nondisclosure agreement can ensure that you get the support you need while protecting your trade secrets and anything that doesn’t yet have legal protection.
- Copyright any published or unpublished work. Once you’ve finished a piece of art, literature, or information, it is copyrighted whether published or not; but without an official copyright registration, this is difficult to defend in court. Your IP attorney will always recommend official copyright registration.
Ready For Step One? Contact Garcia-Zamor Today!
We want to help you ensure that your game-changing ideas make it out into the world. With over 20 years of combined experience in intellectual property law, Garcia-Zamor can help you protect your IP well before your idea ever hits the shelves. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.