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Startups, Beware! Everybody Wants Your IP.

December 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Money/Business, Tech/Internet, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.comRecently, there’s been a dramatic uptick in the number of articles covering the importance of protecting your business IP, especially in the early stages of a company. It’s not all about marketing: there’s a lot of truth in the importance of protecting a business’s intangible assets and preventing them from being appropriated by a third party.

Here we’re going to look at advice from founders who quickly ran into their own IP problems. This is what they had to saw on the matter.

Lavell Dishmon, Cycle Lights

Dishmon is the founder of Cycle Lights, a company that wants to shake up the cycle accessory market. Early on he realized that protecting intellectual property wasn’t as simple as he thought. Instead, he discovered that it had a lot to do with the team itself. Customers, suppliers and employees all had to be incorporated into the IP strategy for it to work. He quickly realized that internal blackbusinesspeeps2016documents and contracts between team members that were often helpful in the beginning could wind up being a big headache further down the road. He suggests using the proper documentation from the start and integrating your approach to IP so that you have the agreements in place to protect it should somebody leave your team and found their own competing business.

Nate Davidson, Cannacrawl

Davidson got into trouble with something called “enabling public disclosure.” What this means, essentially, if that you have gotten to the point where you have publicly shared so much information about how your product works that somebody else is entitled to copy it. His advice is to be careful at tradeshows and other events not to disclose in detail how a particular product works. Doing so reduces the window of time you have to patent a particular invention to twelve months.

Miriam Micea, Fort Knox PR

Mircea knows how important it is to stay on the lookout for symbols like the copyright sign when creating marketing material for your business. But as attorneys, like Xavier Morales, point out, conflicts with other trademarks can frequently occur. This is why Mircea suggests that companies go beyond just looking for symbols. They have to go into in-depth research to find out whether they are able to use particular photos, songs and videos in their marketing efforts.

Mircea says that startups can also help to lower their risks by keeping trade secrets. Historically there have been two ways that companies kept control of their IP assets. One way, often used in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries was to file for patents. But the other, often utilized in the automotive sector and in hospitality, was to simply keep things a secret. How many times have you been to a restaurant, for instance, which claims to have a secret sauce that only the owner knows how to make?

Famous examples of effective trade secrets include the likes of Coca-Cola or KFC. Both of those brands retain their value, partially thanks to the fact that other companies still haven’t been able to replicate the flavor of their products, even to this day.

Staff Writer; Terry Smith

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