Startups are famously fickle, and the first few years of existence can be counted on to be some of the rockiest, as it struggles to sustain and finance itself while making a name and brand in its industry. In such a competitive market, what is a startup to rely on if not for the value of its ideas, the real-world worth of the innovations, technologies or concepts that it creates?
It is therefore of paramount importance to the sustained success of any startup that it recognizes, assesses and protects its intellectual property wherever necessary. And to do it sooner rather than later. Not only will this kind of proactive protection save you from legal headaches down the line, but it can also provide the startup potentially crucial revenue in the form of royalties. If there is one takeaway from this article, it’s that if you own a new startup you need to find affordable legal expertise – if you’re here in Canada, you can learn more at LexLocom about how to do this – and start protecting your intellectual property immediately.
What Is IP?
Intellectual property (IP) is, simply put, any intangible creations of the human mind. That could include songs (as you’ve no doubt gathered from the countless copyright suits covered in the media), inventions, designs, trade secrets or, as is most common in that case of startups, a new technology. Intellectual property might take the form of trademarks, copyrights, patents or trade secrets – they each function in a unique way, and are used for different things. This summary from the Government of Canada is a good primer for understanding the differences.
Why Protect It?
As mentioned, IP can be lucrative for startups; if you are able to bankroll your operation with royalty money, you’ve created a solid revenue base and your future is secured. The last thing you want is to be pushed out of your industry by bigger companies using your IP, only to find yourself mired in protracted legal battles that you may eventually lose. Your startup is your idea, just as much as it’s the brick and mortar building your office sits in – you would put a lock on your office door to protect it, so why not apply for a trademark or patent to protect your IP?
How Can You Protect Your IP?
It’s true that legal counsel can be expensive. But it doesn’t have to be. One way to work around the high price of legal counsel would be to look at a legal outsourcing company – they’re often able to offer short-term legal experts at a very good rate, and you’ll be able to demand a legal expert that’s proficient in IP law. Simply put, you can hire a legal expert solely for the duration of the IP application, without having to offer them full time employment. This is the smartest way to protect your IP.
Startups are risky business, but if you have any desirable intellectual property, it’s wise to protect them as soon as possible, and certainly before disclosing them. Get in contact with a legal outsourcing company ASAP, and set up an account where you can store all of those incoming royalty payments.