Great ideas are the foundation of any successful business. And, they are rare – so much so that there are many people out there who would happily take your ideas for themselves and claim them as their own. If it should happen to you, it can be disastrous, unless your intellectual property – or IP – is protected. In today’s guide, we’re going to go through some things you can do to ensure your ideas stay with their rightful owner.
Understand the different types of IP
There is a broad range of intellectual property protections available. You will need to investigate trademark protection, patenting, and copyright, amongst others. Not all of them cost money – copyrights are automatic, for example. However, for those that you have to pay for, it’s important to work out whether it is worth the expense. It all depends on your business idea – you have to be confident it is commercially viable. Intellectual property can be a complicated framework to understand. Look into hiring an experienced lawyer to give you the help you need.
What to protect?
You can protect a broad range of intellectual property, from inventions and design, through to logos and brands. In essence, your IP is anything that is a result of creative thinking and ideas.
It is advisable for all startups that they start looking at intellectual property sooner rather than later. It will give your ideas the protection they need right from the outset, and it can be problematic if you leave it until later. It needs a little planning, of course, but make sure it is one of the things at the top of your list. The earlier you sort it out, the quicker you will be able to focus your attention on building your product or developing your service.
Introduce best practices
The first thing to do is form a basic awareness of IP best practices. It’s all about building a safe and robust foundation for your ideas, to ensure that, if anyone steals them, you will have a case against them. Be warned – it is a long process. Getting a patent on a design or new piece of technology can take anything up to six years. And, getting watertight protection can take you hundreds of hours of extra work and cost a considerable amount of money, too.
Once you have protection, there are a couple of good reasons to make regular checks on your intellectual property. First of all, you can be on the lookout for anyone that might have stolen your ideas. But also, you can make sure that you aren’t infringing on anyone else’s ideas. Trademark attorney Xavier Morales says regular searches can reveal conflicts with other businesses. In most cases, theses can be dealt with amicably, but it’s better to be on the front foot, rather than reacting to a nasty surprise.
We hope this guide has shown you the importance of intellectual property, and a little glimpse into how you can get started. Keep your ideas safe, and you will give your business a great chance of success!