Unfortunately, this often means substantial legal expenses a few years down the road. Essentially Intellectual Property covers an assortment of ownership claims over issues like copyrights, patents, trademarks, designs and trade secrets, without which any entrepreneur would lose his competitive edge in the market. It is, therefore,crucial for them to be protected against misuse or theft.
If your company is just making a start and you are likely to be on the lookout for major funding in due course, it is essential that all the founders of the business venture have a formal agreement defining who owns what, and how the patent is going to be treated at the time of profit booking, selling them or even dissolving the company. Since filing for patents can be quite expensive, it may not be possible to cover everything in one go. You should focus on the more strategic elements; for example, think about protection in the domestic markets if that is where you will operate first and leave the international coverage out of the scope for the time being. You can always do that when you plan to launch yourself in the global market and reach a state in the domestic market when your success has started to arouse curiosity internationally.
Another effective way of not attracting external attention on your patent ideas and inventions is not to talk about them unnecessarily or expose them to audiences that are not relevant. When you do need to discuss them with people who matter such as investors, make sure that you have a non-disclosure agreement signed so that you have a certain degree of protection of ideas that are sensitive and patentable.
It is always better to file a provisional patent before a formal application. Provisional patent applications made to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can give temporary protection to your Intellectual Property at much less cost and legal formalities. Be sure to check with a competent and professional legal firm like Chula Vista Business Law Group before deciding.
Even though copyright notices in writing are optional since 1989 under US law, it is best to avoid the chance of any misunderstanding by ensuring all major documents, including manuals, guides, and publicity materials published by you have the copyright symbol or the ‘Copyright’ word on them along with information about the year in which it was first created and published. It is essential that the ownership rights of the contents of the documents are made clear to everyone right from the very start as that will prevent other people who may be working on them to claim ownership. This is best done by getting everyone working on them to sign a written contract that clarifies that only the company has the rights to the documents. For legal protection to be full, the copyright should be registered with the US Copyright Office after paying the processing fee and making the application for copyright registration.
Keeping trademarks secure is important because the relevant symbols, designs, or words serve to distinguish your brand from the rest. To ensure that your trademark is unique you need to have a search performed. This can be done by yourself or by professional agencies. It is important to note that certain symbols, designs, or words may be accorded the status of trademarks even if they are not formally registered simply because they have been used by someone for a long time. While technically there is no legal requirement to get your trademark registration, doing so gives better protection and entitles you to use the ® symbol that universally indicates that the trademark is registered.
When you are starting out, you hope that your business will be a grand success. To ensure that it does achieve that status, you need to be proactive about protecting your patents, copyrights, and trademarks. It is essential that the due diligence and search be done right at the very start so that you are able to maintain the uniqueness of your intellectual property.