Give your best tip for protecting your startup’s intellectual property?
To help you best protect your startup’s intellectual property, we asked legal professionals and experienced startup founders this question for their best advice. From documenting your ideas and original concepts in great detail to securing your copyrights with blockchain technology, there are several tips that may help you take the appropriate measures to protect your startup’s intellectual property.
Here are 10 tips for protecting your startup’s intellectual property:
- Document Your Ideas and Original Concepts in Great Detail
- Don’t Infringe On Others’ Intellectual Properties
- Maintain Solid Cybersecurity
- Get Employees and Partners To Sign Non-Disclosure Agreements
- Practise Password Hygiene To Protect Your Documents
- Register Your Intellectual Property Properly With All Contracts Signed
- Copyright and Trademark All Your Works
- Set Up Alerts for Violations
- Protect Your Brand and Product Names With Trademarks
- Secure Your Copyrights With Blockchain Technology
Document Your Ideas and Original Concepts in Great Detail
Document your ideas and original concepts in excruciating detail. If ever you should suspect that your intellectual property is being infringed upon it’s going to be imperative that you’re able to prove your case should legal trouble arise. To protect yourself, it’s a good idea to document as many aspects about your IP as possible, and in as much detail as you can.
Remember there are rarely new ideas, just new innovations on existing concepts. As such it’s not unusual at all for different IPs to be similar in form and function.
Carefully detailed concepts have a better chance of deducing whether actual infringement occurs over concepts that are simply similar in nature.
Document your IP, and be meticulous when doing it. The extra attention to detail can help armor your IP from infringement.
Boye Fajinmi, TheFutureParty
Don’t Infringe On Others’ Intellectual Properties
Safeguarding your IP takes many forms, with one important one ensuring that you don’t overlap with any ideas already under legal protection. A cease and desist has the potential to shut down your startup before it’s even taken off and should be avoided at all costs. Cross-reference all the available resources to you to ensure you’re in the clear before proceeding with your plans.
Bill Lyons, Griffin Funding
Maintain Solid Cybersecurity
Not all intellectual property can be copyrighted, so it’s important you maintain solid cybersecurity practices. Cybersecurity doesn’t just mean strong anti-virus software, it also means teaching your employees good anti-phishing techniques, which can be intended to gain access to sensitive company data. Another important form of cybersecurity is keeping track of the data your employees have access to on personal devices–especially if they leave your company.
John Jacob, Hoist
Get Employees and Partners To Sign Non-Disclosure Agreements
As a startup, you’ll need to work with many people in both developing your idea and making it a reality. Unfortunately, this exposes your intellectual property to people who may not stick to the final development stages and that can be potentially disastrous if they take your concept and create it first. To avoid this headache, be sure to get everyone you work with to sign a non-disclosure agreement so that they have heavy legal and financial incentive to keep their knowledge to themselves. Whether or not they’re heavily involved, it’s still a safeguard against any potential competition wrought from your own hand.
David Ring, MCT – Trading
Practise Password Hygiene To Protect Your Documents
Maintaining responsible password hygiene is critical for protecting intellectual property. Changing passwords at regular intervals is best practice, once every 30, 60, or 90 days is effective depending on how sensitive your ideas are. Company or team size also affects this practice. The larger the team involved in a project, the more likely it is that information will be leaked. Keeping a close-knit group of trustworthy team members is fairly obvious, but frequently updating how information is accessed will help former or outside workers from accessing sensitive intellectual property.
Thomas Yuan, Sanebox
Register Your Intellectual Property Properly With All Contracts Signed
As a former lawyer who transitioned into being a CEO of a business that thrives on its intellectual property, I understood from the beginning the importance of properly registering IP and signing contracts.
Sometimes startups have more than one person contributing to its success, and contracts get everyone on the same page by forcing people to have that tough conversation and then sign on the dotted line.
These documents also provide peace of mind in the event circumstances change, because the legal documents clearly state what happens in these happenings. While investing in a lawyer may be a big investment early on, understand that this process is an inevitability anyway, so might as well get it out of the way early and reap the benefits.
Monte Deere, Kizik
Copyright and Trademark All Your Works
The best tip for protecting a startup’s intellectual property is using copyrights, as they offer complete protection to artistic and written works, like painting, drawings, literary creations, music, video recordings, and emails. Copyright protection impedes others from imitating or duplicating your work without your permission. A piece of work is copyrighted as soon as the copyright is made, and the protection lasts for the creator’s lifetime, plus 70 years. While it’s not needed, you can register your copyright with the United States Copyright Office for full-fledged protection. Another way to protect the intellectual property of a startup is using trademarks.
Shivanshi Srivastava, Payday Loans UK
Set Up Alerts for Violations
Your startup’s IP is crucial as it ensures your business’s continuity and minimizes the chances of unfair competition from unethical industry players. To protect your startup’s IP and minimize instances of violation, it is a good practice to set up automatic alerts for each violation. Google Alerts is a great tool for doing this and will ensure that each time someone uses your company’s IP, they have to acknowledge you and can’t proceed without your permission.
Mehtab Ahmed, LoansJury
Protect Your Brand and Product Names With Trademarks
One thing brands should keep in mind is how they describe their IP. Slogans, names, titles, or other descriptors might become the market’s way of describing the general category of this IP, and it’s vital to position yourself as the “Band-Aid” of band-aids.
That’s when you’ll be glad to have used (™) all along. The symbol stands for unregistered trademark and, while it gives you no legal backing, helps make a case for a government-awarded registered trademark. Should other players directly compete with you, you’ll be a step ahead on brand positioning and have legal action ready if need be.
Keegan Brown, Easy On Hold
Secure Your Copyrights With Blockchain Technology
Blockchain technology produces a structure of data with inherent security qualities; based on principles that ensure trust in transactions. Once data is in the blockchain, it is there forever, along with agreements, dates, and authorship proof. This tip secures authorship for good, and it’s cheaper than conventional ways of copyright registration.
Gisera Matanda, WeLoans
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