Last week we shared our blog about "Why you should know about your IP rights", this week are giving you #TopTips on how to protect, manage and enforce these rights.
Start-ups are often eager to impress potential investors, which leaves owners vulnerable to disclosing copyrights, trademarks and other IP when speaking about their brand.
For new businesses in particular, it can be tricky to understand how to protect and manage your IP, or when you should be disclosing certain IP information to certain individuals. Here at SnapDragon, we know how important it is to protect your IP before disclosing it. Here are some top tips on how to protect, manage and enforce your IP rights for the best commercial results:
Registering copyrights is important because it protects your valuable original works. Copyrights come in various forms including computer programmes, musical compositions, photographs and literary works. The reasoning behind registering copyrights is to help protect against any potential competitors who may produce counterfeits.
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Protect patents before disclosing them
Many countries require absolute novelty to obtain patent protection. This means that if there is no absolute novelty, the invention is ineligible for patent protection in any country that requires absolute novelty. For that reason, it is critical to file a patent application before publicly disclosing any potentially patentable invention. Failure to do this may actually prevent patenting the invention in some countries.
Register a trademark to protect your company name
On the other hand, trademark registration does not require absolute novelty and many countries grant trademark registrations to the first entity that files for that trademark. Therefore, if you don’t want your company to use a different name or trademark in a foreign country, it is essential that you file for a trademark registration.
Your brand is everything, as it shapes your reputation with both the public and customers. Although brand recognition and reputation take time to form, it’s important to register any patents, trademarks, or domain names early. By doing this you could avoid the headache of territorial and property disputes further down the line. This is common when one or more companies have the same name, and your early registration could be the key to keeping your name in any conflict situation.
It’s also important to register your IP early as investors will examine your company and IP portfolio to assess its strengths and weaknesses before deciding if your company is a worthy investment. The attraction here is that your IP protection is a barrier which helps prevent competitors copying your business strategy, therefore presenting a more appealing business opportunity.
Keep trade secrets, secret!
Trade secrets are an effective way to protect your IP. However, they are only enforceable if they are kept secret. To ensure the confidentiality of the trade secrets, you should develop protocols and limit the number of people who have access to them. This includes identifying and deciding what information must remain within your company and what is disclosed to the public or potential investors. To prevent disclosures, non-disclosure agreements should be signed before sharing confidential information.
Establish clear ownership records
Initial ownership of IP generally begins with the investors or creators of the IP, however, your company does not necessarily own the IP even if your company has paid someone to develop it. This is why it’s essential to establish ownership of the IP prior to any disclosure. This helps avoid ownership disputes in the future.
Assignments should be obtained from the IP’s co-founders, employees, contractors and others who have participated in the development of any inventions. Moreover, there should be a record of software, trademarks, source code, advertising and other marketing materials.
Consider a provisional patent application
To protect inventions, your company may want to file patent applications. However, it may be the case that your company cannot yet afford the costs and fees associated with patent fillings or is still perfecting the details of the invention. If this applies to you, provisional patent applications are a reasonable way to preserve intellectual property rights. These are inexpensive and allow your company 12 months to continue to develop its invention before having to file for a non-provisional patent application.
Your company’s IP portfolio can be a crucial part of your company’s business strategy. Additionally, knowing how to protect your IP is extremely important for potential investors.
We use IP rights to defend your brand on e-commerce platforms across the world! If you want to take matters into your own hands, try your free trial of Swoop now.