Recent research, published by Early Metrics, has presented some surprising (and a bit terrifying) insights regarding IP protection: four out of five European tech start-ups have no proper protection in place to stop their competitors taking their market share or stealing their IP.
Additionally, this is the biggest red flag which is most likely to make investors walk away.
So, why do a considerable percentage of business built around unique technologies fail to protect their most valuable asset? The research shows that the main reason is that in the early days of creating a new business, the last thing that founders consider is the paperwork to protect IP or secure agreements with third parties – so the conversation tends to emerge too late in the process.
If this is the case, don’t worry! Better late than never!
TIPS FOR PROTECTING YOUR IP
- Create an Intellectual Property map: identify your company’s assets (all patents, designs, trade marks, copyrights and domain names), determine what is the most important information and then consider which of those assets are most at risk of being stolen. This can help you to figure out where to best spend your protective efforts.
- Know where your intellectual property is: consider all areas where your IP can be present and don’t focus just on your IT systems. IP can be stored or processed on printers scanners, file-sharing services or even in employees personal devices.
- Label valuable intellectual property: if information is confidential to your business, put a banner or label on it that says so. This can seem unimportant but if you end up in court trying to prove someone took information they weren’t authorized to take, your argument won’t stand if you can’t demonstrate that you made it clear that the information was protected.
- Record the evidence: Keep a log of evidence that records the development of intellectual property (for example, dated and signed copies of drawings and drafts) and assess it at every stage of development.
- Educate employees about intellectual property: In most cases, IP leaves an organization by accident or through negligence so it’s important your employees are aware of how they might unintentionally expose IP, what needs to be protected, how to protect it, and from whom to protect it.
- Prevent theft through contracts: Ensure all your employment and consultancy contracts clearly state your ownership of any intellectual property developed for you.
- Take expert advice: At Linkilaw, one of our areas of expertise is IP law so we can help your business by making sure your IP is properly protected. Don’t hesitate to get in touch.
I hope this helps you and your business! If you have any doubt regarding your IP protection, book a call with our legal team and we’ll guide you through every stage of your legal needs.