When a company in the startup phase is contemplating protecting intellectual property (IP), there are several important steps to be taken. The first item on the list is realizing this is not a one-step process. Intellectual property is an idea, a theory, a plan of action, and a lot of other things. However, all of these could be the foundation for a new business. That is why it is so important to identify and safeguard your IP as soon as possible. It may behoove you to start your search for an attorney–finding the right one for you is going to take time. Traklight can get you started in the right direction; have you considered your IP strategy?
First thing's first: Identify your intellectual property. You can read more about the best practices for managing and leveraging your IP in our Intellectual Property Best Practices blog series. If your idea is in your head, commit it to paper (or create a Word document). You need to prove that idea is yours on a particular day by getting an official date stamp. It used to be that entrepreneurs would date the paper, and then send a copy to themselves by registered mail to prove that the document existed on the day of the postmark. But with Traklight, our IP Vault allows users to date and time-stamp any materials they upload. Follow this procedure for every revision you make to your IP.
Make sure your idea is original. Researching whether or not your idea is original or similar to another proposal is going to be time consuming. Start with the topic and then work through the keywords and any other words that may similarly describe your project. We have a handful of very helpful resources on our website to help you undergo this critical effort. In addition to your own research, you may benefit from the resources of an attorney or firm that specializes in the various methods of IP protection. If you truly believe your project has the validity to be commercially successful, then it is worth the investment to make sure that your idea is original and projected.
Everyone has probably heard the story how Alexandria Graham Bell beat a competitor to the Patent Office to patent the first working telephone. So time should not be wasted. However, before you've protected your idea, you do not want to show all the cards in your hand by advertising for financial backers for a new idea that will revolutionize the world. Once you have your intellectual property be prepared for challenges from those who claim they have already submitted the same idea or that a part of your idea is the result of work by someone else.
Investing in your ideas will prove very beneficial to the success of your business. Start by identifying your IP.