Every startup needs a strong legal strategy that can change as the business grows. Attorneys play a key role in this process by helping startups navigate the legal pitfalls that can make or break their success.
Why IP is Important for Startups
Assets like patents, trademarks and copyrighted works are prone to be copied or stolen, which can have significant implications for a company’s ability to grow. This is why startups should devise an intellectual property strategy that protects the core ideas and products that make up their brand.
The First Step in an Intellectual Property Strategy for Startups
The first step in an intellectual property strategy for a startup is to determine what it owns and how it is used. This includes knowing what technologies the company has, software that it uses, and any other information relating to its core products or services.
Once a startup has a better understanding of its own unique IP, it is important to decide whether it should seek patent or other intellectual property protections and if so, how many and when. Developing an expansive portfolio of patents can be costly and may not provide any real value in the short term. Filing too few patents, on the other hand, can be harmful as well because they prevent a startup from being able to take advantage of the patent system. Trademarking the business or other vital names, phrases and branding can also be incredibly advantageous as well as ward off competitors and imitators.
Early-stage investors see the securing of IP rights as a risk-allocation exercise, and this is a great reason to start thinking about it early.
An IP strategy is not just about protecting your inventions from competitors; it also allows you to make money off of those patents and other IP by licensing them, selling them, or transferring them to third parties. These revenue streams can make or break a startup.
Another factor that should be considered when it comes to your IP strategy is how often you should reassess the status of your patent and other IP protections. This is especially true when you are constantly evolving your product or adding new ingredients, which can lead to your existing protections being outgrown.
A good IP strategy for a startup should include ensuring that your company’s name is chosen carefully and is protected by trademark, domain name and social media terms. This is essential for companies that want to attract and retain customers and partners.
Having clear agreements with employees and freelancers who will work on the startup’s projects is vital. These agreements should assign ownership of any IP they create to the company and should have a clear chain of title to prove the transfer of rights.
It’s also crucial to get the right legal advice at the early stage to ensure you are protected from potential infringement lawsuits in the future. A good attorney will be able to help you understand the costs associated with each type of protection and how to budget accordingly.
A good lawyer will also have experience with the laws and practices that govern a particular sector, so they can ensure you are not exposed to unnecessary risks. This will ensure that your startup is protected from the start and can focus on what makes your business truly special.