November 30, 2017
If you run a startup on a new technology or product, then you know that intellectual property issues are among the most important considerations you need as part of the business launch. A startup will encounter several issues including developing a product, hacking the digital hardware, raising capital, hiring competent staff, and more. With all these things to accomplish, intellectual property may seem like an unachievable endeavor.
When you develop and launch a new product or technology, you should file for intellectual property protection. This can be a good move to help you obtain venture capital funding or prevent unfair competition from your competitors.
So, here are key intellectual property strategies you can implement in your startup.
File Early and remain quiet
There is limited time to file for patent protection and they should be expected in the early stages of a business.For instance, in United States, a startup has a grace period of one year from when they went public to filing for patent protection. But you shouldn’t wait for that long. On the other hand, Europe follows the first-to-file system, which eliminates the need for the owner to provide proof that they were the first to invent the product.
Under this system, it is important to quietly file before you make it public, otherwise one of your competitor could use your idea and beat you.
File Patents for Every Feature on Your Technology or Product
Patents are a valuable asset to any successful startup. With intellectual property, it’s either you patent it all or nothing. Initially you may have a patent for your product, but in the process, the product may evolve greatly and may turn into a different thing that what was filed first. In this case, the product becomes unprotected. Ensure you update your patent application every time you add a new feature to your product.
Don’t Wait Until the Patent Is Issued To You
The process of patent applications take time, so don’t wait until the issue date. On average it takes more than two years for a patent to be issues, so just proceed to the next stage of development and build your business.
Having a ready patent can make you more credible in the market and attract potential investor into your business. But don’t wait until the issue date launch your invention. Work on other aspects of your business such as improving your products and safeguarding it with trademarks. In the process, you will solve additional problems which may help elevate your startup to success.
Don’t Rely Completely on Patents
Patents are essential asset to any startup, but they solve one piece of the puzzle. A startup needs a unique product or service to be successful. Also, you need to protect your brand with registered trademarks. A trademark is a word, design or symbol that identifies and differentiates the products of one party from others. If you have a strong trademark that is easy to recognize, it help distinguish your products and services from your competitors. Similarly, a trademark never expires as long as your business is operating. Start the process early and have a trademark search done to avoid conflicts that may delay your business from pushing forward.
Obtaining a patent doesn’t guarantee that you will have a successful business. Patents are just issued to new inventions, but you need to work on strengthening your brand, doing strategic marketing, getting a copyright and trade secret protection. It is good to talk to an intellectual property lawyer as you build your startup to ensure you’re completely protected.
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