If you’re an entrepreneur, you have plenty to do. In order to fulfill your dreams, do the work that you love to do, and succeed, you will have to wear many hats you are not used to wearing, and you are going to need to ensure the security and viability of your business.
Small Business Partners
Even though there may be partners and assistants involved, it is tough to cover all the bases. There is one base, however, that needs to be taken care of: protecting the intellectual property of your concern.
Maybe the nature of the start-up has required you to act quickly on your intellectual property. Technology and entertainment based companies know that their patents and trademarks need immediate attention or they risk losing everything, including even their business credit. Otherwise, you may be working on a restaurant, a retail store, a professional services company, or another venture that doesn’t quite lead you to view IP as a priority.
Tips To Keeping Your Business’ Privacy
No matter what it is that you’re working on, you need to establish protection for your ideas, inventions and brands immediately. Even a stolen brand or company name can wreak havoc on all the work you have accomplished. The good news is that this can be completed in short order.
Here is what you need to do:
- Non-disclosure agreements – anyone you’re working with on a business venture, be it partners or employees, should sign non-disclosure agreements. If intellectual property is leaked before you are fully established, it’s possible you may never get to launch your new company.
- Non-compete agreements – similarly, when your business is established you should put non-compete agreements into place so that if any employee leaves or there is a falling out, they cannot steal any of your proprietary information protected under the law.
- Due diligence – review every facet of your business and figure out what needs to be protected. At the very least, you have a company name and logo that you need to ensure no one infringes. Also make full note of trade secrets, proprietary technology, processes, recipes, writing and copy, video, music – anything you have created.
- Trademark – trademark applies to your business name, logo and any advertising taglines or slogans you are using.
- Copyright – put a copyright notice on all creative content that you publish. Website copy is particularly susceptible to being stolen.
- Patents – patents are to protect your inventions and proprietary processes. File them immediately, and you will be guaranteed protection before anyone else filing a patent for the same. Patents can take up to five years from filing to be issued
- International considerations – research the intellectual property laws of any foreign markets where you will be vulnerable, and act quickly to protect your assets in those countries.
- Legal counsel – you’ll probably achieve the best results by hiring an attorney to help you with all of this paperwork. When you do your due diligence and figure out what needs protection, you can then determine the level of legal support you will need. The more complicated your intellectual property portfolio is, the more experienced and skilled your attorney should be.
Alex is a writer for The Law Office of Gregory R. Terra, a criminal defense attorney in Georgetown, Texas. Alex wonders if someday he will start up his own company.