When you create a product, you also create all kinds of IP: Trademarks, patents, utility models, copyrights etc. Depending on your stage, product and industry some may be essential to protect, others not. Some incur costs and some don’t. Copyright for example, is the only IP which is created automatically, i.e. without a necessity for a registration and examination by national patent offices. You also need to consider where to protect your IP globally. The right IP advice can save you money and time as well as ensure your invention is fully protected.
IP protects your business from others in many ways. Trademark is in general a must or at least a “should” as a minimum requirement, if you want to secure your name or logo. There are many types of trademark and expert advice can help you evaluate the most relevant and cost-effective option for your company or invention. From a business strategy perspective, a trademark is an indicator of differentiation from your competitors and some investors may require that as a given when they initiate discussion with you. Patents, utility models (a more cost-effective version) etc. are essential if you have a business that relies on your invention or innovation. If you want to be the next Edison, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs then you need to protect your invention so that nobody can claim it. If you want to become the next Facebook, avoid the mistakes they made and from the outset file as many patents as you can. If not then down the line you will have to pay large sums of money to other IP owners or, in a worst case scenario, cease your business operations. Copyright is one of the easiest options. You already have the protection by finalizing your art work. That said, you need to have fulfilled the copyright protection requirements. Your IP needs protecting in the country where you are and/or will be operating. Go with the market. As IP rights cost money to protect – except in the case of copyright – much will depend on your budget. Getting the right advice early on will help you maximise your resources to help ensure you have the best protection possible given your resources. To support you in doing this, we offer
IP qualifies for fundraising. Listen to great mentors like Guy Kawasaki: Silicon Valley is making IP as a prerequisite for creating a startup and getting investment. Even at later stage, if you are fundraising for getting R&D money in Series B, C, D, ….X rounds, investors want to hear that the output from the R&D – the reason for giving the money – is protected by solid IP such as patents.
IP is an additional revenue stream. You can either “license” or “sell” your IP. In case of licensing your IP, the moment, for example, your patent has been granted in your country, you will be able to collect royalties from the people who are using your patent in that protected country. This is an outbound licensing situation which sees you making money from your IP rights. IP Pro will guide you through how you can do this, and how much you can ask. The same applies to registered trademarks and copyrights, when people want to use your business name/logo or art work.
To sell your IP, you need to be the owner of it. Ask our members of the IP Professionals’ community whether, when and how this applies in your specific situation as it depends purely on your economic motivation and situation. This applies to all types of IP.
In the unfortunate case of bankruptcy or foreclosure, IP can be sold or liquidated as a financial asset. Please ask the IP experts in our community.
The question whether you should buy or license an IP from another person or entity depends on many factors: Do you need to buy or license it for legal reasons because you are using someone else’s IP? Do you have the money to buy or license it? Before committing to anything, get help from the members of our IP community who are experts in your field.
Copyright protection is the cheapest IP option as it does not require the full examination by the national patent offices. Depending on the type of artwork you have created, you can register to get a © mark on your work and proof that you have protected it. This is not a must.
Other types of IP protection such as patents, trademarks etc. are more complex. You can enquire at the national patent offices – see our extensive list here – or talk to the IP Professionals in our IP community here. As well as administration fees for registration, examination and other work, in general, there will be necessarily additional expenses for legal and business strategy related questions involved when protecting your invention and/or business name. To avoid unnecessary additional costs, get the best advice early on and talk to the right IP Professionals. Enquire here.
Many countries have incentives such as Hong Kong, South Africa, where you can apply for financial help in the costs. These countries promote their country in order to strengthen their innovative power so your contribution is very welcome. For details please look at our General Resources here.
In some countries, such as the US, Japan, and many others, some banks give loans for R&D purposes, which can include IP protection. Please enquire with the banks in your area. We are listing up a few banks that do so here. If you know of more banks that are providing these kinds of services, please help us add to this list.
Finally, some angels or early stage VCs might be willing to provide you funding for your venture under the condition that you add IP protection in order to safeguard your invention. See here the list of the incubators & accelerator platforms who can offer further insights about early stage funding.
For startups, and small companies, the IP landscape can present unexpected and unwelcome challenges. For example, larger players may claim infringement (with or without true justification) to pressure start-ups or individual inventors into unfavourable licensing or sales agreements. Alternatively, other inventors may challenge your IP rights by claiming prior art. Being equipped with the right knowledge and expertise reassures and supports you in navigating unforeseen circumstances. IP Pros can even negotiate in these situations on your behalf.
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