3 IP strategies to protect your tech startup

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Protect your tech startup – Intellectual property is incredibly valuable to any new business, but it is especially important to startups operating in the tech sector.

There are various strategies available to fledgling firms that want to stop their IP being exploited, so here are just a few of the best ways to go about this.

Make secrecy mandatory – protect your tech startup

No business can flourish without the involvement of more than one person, so when you hire employees or work with contractors as you grow your startup, you need to make sure that all of these individuals understand their role in protecting your IP.

It is possible for intellectual property infringement or outright theft to occur if those you work with are not bound by a written agreement to keep your tech startup’s secrets.

Harnessing a non-disclosure agreement can be hugely helpful in this respect, since it allows you to outline expectations regarding the use of your IP in an unambiguous way.

Avoid falling foul of existing employers’ IP claims

Plenty of tech startups are forged at a time when the founders are still working for another business. If this is the case, you need to be aware that a previous employer could claim ownership of any IP you develop for your new enterprise if it came about when you were supposed to be working for them, or even outside of work hours if you were using resources they provided.

The stipulations of an invention assignment agreement which you may have signed at the point of employment could leave you in all sorts of hot water if you eventually branch out with your startup. Because of this, you need to think carefully about how you work on your innovative side project in the early stages to avoid forfeiting the rights to any IP you develop for it.

Choose protection that suits your needs

Your first thought when building a tech startup and developing a product might be that you need to get patents to truly ensure that your IP cannot be copied. While this will eventually be sensible in certain circumstances, you should also bear in mind that patenting is not just expensive to carry out, but takes time and also requires you to prove that your invention is even eligible for a patent.

For this reason it is better to adopt a fairly diverse approach to IP protection, rather than relying on the hope that you will eventually be granted a patent at some unknowable point in the future.

A more pressing concern may be ensuring that the things which identify your business and brand are not open to exploitation. Trademarks are effective for this purpose, letting you stop third parties from copying or subverting things like your company logo, brand name or key messaging for their own gain.

You can also rely on the innate protection provided by copyright laws, covering any works you might create for your startup. As with all areas of IP protection, engaging the services of an expert in the field will help you avoid the most common pitfalls.

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