It’s no secret that the Bay Area is home to virtually thousands of startups, incubators and think tanks, producing a limitless number of cutting-edge ideas and technologies every day.
While startups are consumed with vital tasks like obtaining investment and bringing new ideas to market, one area of startup development is often forgotten: Protecting your intellectual property.
IP protection should be considered day one of any startup operation. Below, we’ll provide a shortlist of reasons any startup founder should seek counsel with an experienced IP attorney before doing anything else.
Why do startups neglect IP in the early stages?
In our experience, IP often covers some of the most abstract aspects of a business—it’s not easy to put a marketable price on things like ideas. Unfortunately, startups that fail to determine the value of their creative processes may be leaving money on the table—or in the worst cases, handing over valuable information to competitors.
Failing to protect your IP may mean losing ownership of the most valuable aspect of your startup.
Partners, investors, and stakeholders
Accordingly, many startups fail to account for how this kind of ownership is apportioned. Is a creative process unique to your company, for example, the property of the owners or founders? Or does it belong to the employee or consultant that develops it? Perhaps your investors feel that the value of an IP should be considered part of their return?
Ownership of IP can quickly sour business relationships. One of the most important priorities for a startup is deciding early on who owns what; here, an experienced IP attorney is an invaluable asset.
Internal processes and trade secrets
Of course, it’s relatively easy to see the value in a breakthrough technology or a new product. However, what many startups fail to anticipate is the sheer amount of novel ideas that result in the ordinary course of their business’ operation.
Internal processes and discoveries can hold equal or greater value than the original ideas that the organization is based on. Failing to anticipate this may mean an otherwise easily preventable loss of trade secrets.
Employee turnover, expiring consultant agreements and even corporate espionage can all serve as potential crises for a developing startup’s IP. It’s important to ensure your IP safeguards account not only for the present but for future developments as well. Here, a trustworthy IP attorney can ensure every aspect of your operation is protected, both now and well into the future.