The meat and bones of any start-up is going to be their intellectual property, a new product or service that they are going to be introducing to the market with hopes of capturing a significant portion of it. For this reason, it is imperative that start-ups do what they can to protect their intellectual property, the idea behind their new company, so that it can’t be taken over by competitors before they get a strong foothold in their respective industries.
A Few Words from Brook Zimmatore
As CEO of Massive Alliance, Brook Zimmatore deals with cyber security for some of the largest global enterprises and has seen the damage theft of IP can do to a corporation.
He says, “If a global corporation can be brought to their knees by the theft of a new innovation, we can only imagine what it would do to a small start-up and that’s why we advise them to begin with cyber security. Everything else you can do to safeguard your IP would be an exercise in futility if your developments, your innovations have been stolen before you can patent them or find financial backers.”
He suggests that a start-up should use the highest level cyber threat protection possible to ensure that their IP will be safe while following the traditional steps for safeguarding intellectual property.
A Look at Traditional Methods of Safeguarding IP
The traditional ways in which a start-up can safeguard their IP would begin with patenting the product or idea.
It is suggested that you patent what may be important to the competition, not something that is merely important to you.
The traditional model of safeguarding IP looks something like this:
- Begin by applying for a patent.
- Build a team willing to become knowledgeable on trademarking and copywriting. Doing this early on will prevent problems down the road.
- If you have any doubts (even if not!) do an intellectual property search on your own. Save time and money by doing a Google search to see if the idea is already being marketed in one form or another. You will find patented products that are close, but if there is enough that is unique, you are safe to apply for a patent.
- When working with an IP specialist attorney, ask for a flat rate as opposed to hourly fees.
- Make sure you have nondisclosure agreements in place that will hold up in a court of law. You would be amazed at how often IPs are stolen by ‘valued’ employees.
- Act quickly. You can’t keep a secret forever as any school child knows. If it’s a secret, it will leak. That’s what made WikiLeaks what they are today, albeit with the founder in serious trouble for leaking.
- Take the time to research any international companies that might have the same or similar patent. If your main competitor is in another country, a United States patent will not safeguard your IP.
- Finally, take a good look at what it is that you do and where you intend to be in the future. You just might find that you have more intellectual properties that need to be safeguarded/patented and so you can even grow as you go by safeguarding them all!
Remember, the first step is to safeguard the computer/s where your IP is being held. If competitors can gain access to your data, then all is lost long before you can take further steps to get your products patented and on the market.
At this point it’s intellectual property but you hope to make it a physical reality and that’s why you are patenting your work. Don’t let someone beat you to the punch. Cyber security is your first line of defense.