Protecting your valuable IP.
How to do it cost effectively and avoid the downsides.
Most of companies value is in intangible assets. Ideas themselves are not protected. Only the expressions of these in the form of being committed are protected.
Any purchaser is going to want to see IP protections in place. In the US they put budgets aside for this from an early stage (they see it as crucial).
It is an opportunity. It gives you legal protection for your product. It allows you to create and exploit products and markets without other people coming along and exploiting your product or idea. It also helps you to flush out the risks early on so you can pivot early.
Perceived problems include:
- Lack of information / expertise
- Cost – of acquisition and enforcement
- Easy to ignore it – or put it off
It is a menu of opportunities. Start with the lower cost, easy, organisational steps and measures.
From that platform consider other options based on:
- what and where are the markets?
- how long will it / your product last?
- what real protection will it provide?
In roughly ascending cost order
Copyright is cheap but it can be an asset as soon as it is protected. Primary question is – do you own it?
If you or an employee create something it’s yours – you are the first owner. If not then it becomes very complex. The contractual arrangements need to be watertight.
Use the symbol!
Don’t give it away. Reinforce confidentiality amongst those in the know
If you think it will grow long term then protect the name. It is the one form of protection that lasts forever.
Register them and they are protected. Cheap and generally underused.
Beware other people might be there first. Search costs can be high but it depends what you are trying to do.
Protects the technology at the heart of the invention but it takes a lot longer to build. You also need to disclose your invention to the world in order to obtain a patent. The average cost in the UK is around £5,000-10,000 to file and protect a patent for 20 years but the range is enormous.
Keep all the contacts, records and documents in a safe place. Then if you get into a conflict you will have done all the due diligence and will be ready to prove your case. Tight confidentiality agreements are important. Don’t let IP take a back seat.