Startups most often base their business on a single innovative idea or product which they hope to storm and capture the market with. Keeping your innovative product secret is of extreme importance if you wish to prevent duplication of your innovation. IP protection for startups is a crucial element for the success of your business. Here’s what every startup should know.
To develop any product, you may discuss it with various outside experts and source custom parts from outside parties. These parties are aware of the product you are building and can reveal it to others. Keeping the idea you are working on a secret is the first step of IP protection for startups that you can enact.
Before discussing or working with any outside parties, ensure that they sign a non-disclosure agreement. Furthermore, your employees should sign the agreement too so they are not able to share the information with anyone.
One of the most effective ways is to patent the idea. Once you have applied for a patent, you have 5 years to ask the Patent Office to review your application. It is necessary to time that request well; because once the Patent Office reviews your application, the patent will be published and the public is aware of it.
Hence, patent the idea and time the request right. When you patent the idea, you want to maintain secrecy and ensure it is not taken notice.
Depending on the changes to your invention, it may be beneficial to update your patent application. Generally speaking, these changes must be non-obvious improvements to your invention. In Canada, filing multiple applications for the same invention can lead to issues with double patenting. As you develop the idea, it’s capability and use evolves too. A failure to update your patent with significant changes can lead to your product being under-protected.
Registering a patent is just the start of protecting your product. Building a unique brand for that product and protecting the brand through the filing of trademark applications is also important. An excellent example would be Xerox. Xerox protected its copy technology through a series of patents, trademarks, and copyrights.
You too can trademark your product name, logo and tagline.
There is no single IP protection strategy that can be applied to all startups. Each organization runs differently and has different products. Having access to intellectual property consultations can be beneficial. Intellectual property consultants can assess your business and its products, and assist in crafings the best IP protection strategy.
If you fail to take these steps, your startup is taking a risk. Prowse Chowne LLP has a team of experienced professionals who offer IP protection advice for startups.