Most of the startups launched in the past few years are mostly based on services offered over the web, their business value being delivered via mobile apps or web apps that propose new concepts – all of which should be done under the big hat of intellectual property.
If it’s the case that your start-up’s most valuable assets are based on intellectual property, you should read on, as not making sure you protect your most valuable ideas and solutions can lead to expensive and lengthy legal battles along the way.
Launch Your Startup Now Or First Protect Your Ideas?
As a new business owner, you might be feeling conflicted between getting the product out in the market quickly or ensuring it’s well protected from the intellectual property standpoint first. But if you’re reaching to investors, you might notice that they won’t put their name and money on ideas that could easily be stolen.
Let’s get you through a brief guide of the main intellectual property rights that startups and businesses should think about before pitching their ideas around. From trademarks to patents, copyright and confidential information clauses, to non-disclosure agreements – intellectual property can be divided into several categories and there may be multiple rights to consider for your startup’s product.
Applying for a trademark is the next thing to do after registering your business name if you’re looking to protect your brand. Your mark should be distinctive and go with your general branding rules, while not being similar to a competitor, as this would cause confusion in your target market. A trademark specifically identifies your product or service in the public’s eye and protects your asset by law. You’ll have to register the trademark separately from your business name and first research the existing trademark registry prior to submitting a new application.
We’re sure your startup is innovative and revolves around a lot of great ideas, but it can only be patented if you can prove your idea is new and has a practical use. The application process itself might make you change your mind about getting a patent, as it’s lengthy, difficult and you’ll most likely end up needing some legal advice or a dedicated lawyer to handle the process. If you decide to apply for a patent, we’re here to make everything easy for you, for a fixed-quote – and you’ll be the owner of your patent, with total monopoly, for 20 years.
Copyright is usually associated with creative work as written content, photographs, designed images, drawings and videos but can also cover software code, website design and databases. The best part of it is that it simply is associated with the creative work and it does not need legal registration – it has to be mentioned it it’s a valuable asset that you can hold on. You can read on more details of copyright acts and exceptions to make sure your intellectual property is covered by copyright.
Confidential information clauses
This is not precisely an intellectual property right but it is a useful tool for your business information to be protected by the law of confidentiality, as long as you keep your business info clearly defined and limited from public availability.
The main use of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is keeping you invention/concept a secret when talking to others. You can ask people to sign an NDA before discussing your future product with them. For example, in a future employee interview, or funding opportunity meeting where you’ll need to share detailed information on how you got to your innovative concept and your work is in danger to be stolen. Here’s where you can find NDA’s examples to get inspired for writing your own.
Registered design rights
Do you use 3D animations or 3D design in your startup app, website or marketing campaigns? You might not know all the details but if you publish 3D explanatory videos or create original characters, if the quality and originality standards are met, you might qualify for a 25-year exclusivity for your design. We must give you a reality check though – it’s quite difficult to meet the standards in getting IP rights of 3D work.
No matter the rights you’ve decided to consider for your startup’s product, remember to take into consideration the countries your business operates in and what business sector you’re working in, as you might need to look into more details on intellectual property.