From past experiences, I wholeheartedly understand the excitement around starting a company based on a great idea, including the thrill involved in convincing investors the idea is disruptive and will lead to a significant return on their investment!
This is one reason I really enjoy working with early stage, innovative companies. However, I often hear “we are a startup, we can’t afford to protect our IP just yet.”
As a partner in a venture capital company, I encountered the scrutiny imposed by investors to a start up regarding IP. This is why it is important to take steps at the first stages of the company to make sure the IP is well protected, but that does not mean you need to spend money right away! From day one, you need to establish good processes for making sure employment agreements include IP assignment clauses, ensuring all employees understand IP and know how to mitigate the risk of involuntary disclosure.
Our complimentary Intellectual Property Best Practices Checklist provides several tips which can be adopted at the creation of a company to ensure it develops a culture of respect for IP.
Establishing an invention disclosure process from the beginning and dutifully mining and cataloguing the ideas implemented in the product, will greatly help show case the innovative value of the start up.
Ensuring everyone in the company treats the ideas as trade secrets until IP protection is filed is also important. Being aware of the specific intellectual property laws (e.g. publication grace periods in the foreign countries in which you wish to compete) and being careful not to miss the grace period (e.g. one-year in the U.S.) before actually filing patent applications can be the difference between success or failure of the company.
At the end of the day, IP is one of the most valuable assets of an innovative company. Although it is not tangible, it is worth it to manage your IP well from day one, and that does not necessarily mean spending a lot of money!
Natalie Giroux is a pragmatic achiever with extensive experience in the areas of strategic intellectual property management, network performance engineering, traffic management, technical due diligence. She has been with Stratford Managers for over eight years and has been providing strategic virtual IP management services for several small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). She is passionate about maximizing the value of innovation, to learn more contact Natalie.
Related: Stratford Managers works with AI firm Zighra on hard-hitting IP strategy. Read how Stratford Managers worked with Ottawa-based firm, Zighra, to successfully file 15 patents, two of which have been granted with several more pending approval, to protect the value of their AI-powered authentication tech for mobile devices.