Launching a startup company requires a mind-crushing amount of thought and effort. One area that entrepreneurs often unintentionally neglect is the legal protection of their business’ intellectual property.
However unintentional, the cost of intellectual property mistakes can be significant for any business and, relatively speaking, these mistakes can be especially costly for startups. To avoid making common intellectual property mistakes, we offer below five important steps to consider:
- Don’t neglect to seek patent protection for new inventions, products, processes, and designs before you reveal your innovations to the public. You want to seek patent protection as soon as you have a viable product you plan to introduce in the marketplace.
- Make sure to pursue trademark protection for your business name, product names, and clever advertising slogans. Your trademark protection can last as long as you use these trademarked items.
- Get an experienced intellectual property attorney’s help when applying for patents, trademarks, and copyrights. You want an IP attorney who understands the process to help guide you and help you overcome any roadblocks in getting your applications approved. An IP attorney also can help you conduct a patent search or trademark search to ensure what you want to protect isn’t similar to something that already has intellectual property protection.
- Have any consultants or contractors who develop a product, innovation, or creative work for your startup sign contracts specifying that your business retains ownership of that intellectual property. Using consultants and contractors to build a business is common, but this strategy can become a sticking point with intellectual property rights without contracts that specify your startup will own that intellectual property.
- Consider licensing agreements carefully. Startups want to ensure that any exclusive licensing agreements allow for quick distribution and marketing of any licensed products.
By taking a proactive approach with your startup’s intellectual property, you will add stronger value to your business, enabling it to capitalize on your product offerings, innovations, and ability to build its brand.
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