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Startup Tips: Intellectual Property Protection

February, 2017
By Linda Peruzzi, Attorney
By Linda Peruzzi, Attorney

Protecting your intellectual property (IP) is crucial to the success of your business.  When you are ready to take your idea to the next level, here are some tips for creating a strong business foundation by creating an effective IP strategy to protect your IP:

  • Maintain Good Records of Creation Dates. Keep good records of the dates of creation of your product or invention, including all iterations of the product or invention.  Good record-keeping will help your business establish and assert your IP rights and help defend against potential infringement accusations down the road.
  • Develop Foundational Documents. Create and execute proper documentation with co-founders, employees, contractors, and suppliers, which clearly defines the terms governing the relationship, including ownership of the product or invention.  Having these contracts and agreements in place to demonstrate your ownership rights will promote investor confidence in your brand.  It will also reduce the likelihood of costly disputes or delays when patenting or commercializing the product or invention.  IP counsel can help you develop a set of standard foundational documents for your startup business.
  • Be Mindful of Timing. Timing is everything.  Do not foreclose your ability to patent that product or invention by publicly sharing too much information about how the product or invention works and/or by releasing the product or invention to the public before filing for protection.   If you wish to patent your invention, you have one year from the date of such a public disclosure to file for a patent.
  • Consider Alternatives for IP Protection.   Explore your options.  There may be a more cost-effective alternative to protect your IP than seeking patent protection for your invention.   Your IP counsel can guide you to the alternative that is right for your business goals and objectives.
  • Establish Clear Licensing Requirements and Restrictions.   Protect your investment by developing and enforcing licensing requirements and restrictions when releasing your product or invention to the public for commercial use, including:
    • The scope of the license;
    • License restrictions;
    • The term of the license and termination rights;
    • Delivery, acceptance, testing and remedies;
    • License fee;
    • Maintenance and support obligations and related fees.

As a full-service law firm, we are ready to assist you with all aspects of your startup, including protecting your IP to secure a solid foundation from which to build your business.  For more information on our corporate and IP services, please contact our Intellectual Property and Tech team.