Five Key Points Every Start Up Should Know
1. Don’t put off getting some initial advice
Burying your head in the sand can be fatal to you IP rights. OK, so you’ve heard that IP is expensive, but did you know most quality IP professionals will give you an hour or so of their time for free? IP may be way down your priority list, but that’s based on your assessment. Get some advice and, if necessary, re-prioritise.
2. Don’t assume “your” IP belongs to you
It could be that what you think belongs to you really belongs to someone else. Does your previous employer actually own the invention? Has a 3rd Party already registered “your” trademark? Did you get assignment of Copyright in that logo or website? If the IP is important to your business, the sooner you find out the answer the better.
3. Don’t disclose an invention without an NDA
NDA? That a Non-Disclosure Agreement (also called a confidentiality Agreement) and is s document which contractually obliges a potential collaborator or partner to keep information you’ve told them confidential. Why use one? It may be hassle, but without closely guarding the details of your invention you risk waving goodbye to potential patent rights.
And DO get the NDA signed BEFORE you disclose!
4. Get an IP Attorney you trust
Shop around – meet with 2 or 3 advisers. Ask about their qualifications and experience. Ask for quotes as well – but look beyond just the cost. A “free” trademark filing might sound attractive, but it may be of very little value if it doesn’t provide the best strategy in terms of the mark or the goods/services selected for protection. So look at whether you feel comfortable with the IP attorney you select, can they explain in a way that you understand? Do they get back to you when you phone or email?
5. Put yourself in an investor’s shoes
If you were an investor, what would you want to see? A clear IP strategy and evidence that you’ve been taking advice – and following it. Or, a bit of a muddle? An investor wants to be sure that their money is invested, not frittered. A well-structured IP strategy can go a long way to offering that reassurance.