Making the decision to start your own company can be exciting, but it also comes with a significant amount of responsibility. To ensure that you don't run into serious legal problems in the future, you need to incorporate solid intellectual property strategies into your company's design from the very beginning.
Here are three important intellectual property tips that startup companies often overlook.
1. Make sure you have contracts in place with all employees.
Any employee or contractor that you do work with as you are in the process of setting up your company should be required to sign a contract. This contract should provide protection against the sharing of proprietary information that could compromise the success of your company in the future.
Anyone who acts in an advisory role and helps you form ideas that will be used to promote the growth of your company should be required to sign a contract promising to keep these ideas confidential.
Contracts ensure that the intellectual property stemming from the ideas generated by you and your employees during the startup phase of your company will enjoy legal protection in the future.
2. Be mindful of EPD prior to obtaining a patent.
In order to ensure that the products your startup company will provide to the public enjoy legal protection against being copied, you need to secure a patent for these products before you take them public.
An EPD (enabling public disclosure) is an event that provides information sufficient enough to allow an individual with industry knowledge to recreate the product. An EPD could be attributed to the display of a product at a tradeshow or the display of a product to investors. By patenting your products before you take them public, you will ensure that no one else can legally copy them without your permission, and allows you to undertake patent prosecution when necessary.
3. Record all information concerning your startup.
When it comes to protecting your intellectual property, dates matter. In order to patent or trademark certain pieces of information, you will need to prove that these pieces of information were used first by your company.
Be sure to record all information presented and exchanged in meetings and brainstorming sessions. Having detailed and dated information will make it easier to acquire the intellectual property rights to products and processes vital to the success of your startup in the future.
Being able to identify the important role intellectual property plays within the business world will allow you to see the importance of incorporating intellectual property protection measures into your startup company's business plan.