Intellectual Property Essentials for Entrepreneurs

  • Nov 28 2016
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  • Category: News

How can my startup protect its innovative products?

Launching a new business can be exciting, especially for those that are introducing new products to the marketplace. While many entrepreneurs focus their time and energy on developing products and implementing their business plan, it is crucial not to lose sight of the fact that business assets are also valuable intellectual property.

Trade Secrets

Startups must recognize that confidential business information has value in need of protection. Trade secrets, such as formulas, designs or business methods, that are not generally known outside of the company and may provide a business with an economic advantage over its competitors.  While trade secrets are protected by state and federal law, a company must take reasonable steps to maintain the confidentiality of this information.

First, it is necessary to put in place policies that limit who is given access to this information within the organization. Moreover, it is crucial to have confidentiality agreements with employees and contractors who have access to sensitive business information. Finally, there must be procedures for safeguarding information that is stored and transmitted electronically. A business that fails to take these basic steps risks forfeiting its ability to pursue legal action for trademark misappropriation under applicable laws.

IP Protection 101

Obviously, most startups face budgetary constraints, but it is important to set aside resources to protect new products and other IP assets. This requires obtaining patent protection for both offensive and defensive purposes. In addition, it is also critical to recognize that the company name, logo and other branding techniques are valuable intellectual property. When selecting a name, for example, it is crucial to run a trademark search. If the name is already trademarked by someone else, a new name can easily be selected. By failing to run a trademark search in the beginning, a startup may select and invest in a problematic name, eventually be forced to rebrand, after spending valuable resources – money and time, gaining entry into a market.

The Bottom Line

As startups continue to be the wellspring for innovation, it is essential for them to address a host of intellectual property issues. By incorporating IP into a business plan, a startup can enhance its value which is essential for obtaining funding, attracting venture capital or engaging in strategic alliances. Ultimately, a startup that is looking to convert its business assets into valuable intellectual property should engage the services of a leading IP law firm.