I've never been to a hackathon. To be honest, I've never experienced anything quite like it. I couldn't believe that some of the participants hadn't slept in 36 hours because they were still all furiously typing away, smiling and laughing with each other!
But why would any of these young coders, developers, and entrepreneurs care to be interested in Traklight or intellectual property (IP)?
Because they were creating new ideas, and those ideas are their intellectual property. As entrepreneurs and potential startup businesses, IP is their most valuable asset and increases their competitive advantage as well as their business valuation (if they decide to turn their idea into a business).
Traklight decided to become involved with and sponsor Hacks4Humanity—a hackathon with a mission "to offer a unique opportunity to inspire innovators to change the world and build technology in service of humanity"—so that we could continue to help businesses (and in this case, specifically entrepreneurs) understand intellectual property and the importance of identifying, managing, and protecting that IP.
Many of the participants were younger (high school and college age), but there were a couple of professionals in the mix as well—a very eclectic group. We wanted to get each participant thinking of protecting their ideas, especially if it was an idea that might develop into a business.
After the event, one of the winning groups approached me, asking to learn more about Traklight and how to protect their newly created IP. I wanted to touch on a few key points they made and how they helped me understand the significance of Traklight to young entrepreneurs just starting out:
Q: "I have another project I'm working on, can I use the same ID your IP® for more than one project?"
A: No. The series of questions ID your IP asks allows you to add multiple IP ideas/creations to one section (whether that's patents, trademarks, copyrights, or trade secrets), but each of those pertains to the same overall project. If you have an idea that is completely separate from that, then you'll want to complete a different ID your IP. That way, when you've completed the questionnaire, you will have individual reports of all the IP you have from each of the projects you've been working on.
Q: "Will my reports from ID your IP help me figure out how to protect my IP? I don't even know where to start!"
A: Yes and no. The IP Strategy report will give you a very thorough set of next steps to take based on the IP you reported on the questionnaire. However, Traklight does not help you protect your IP with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), but we do have some fantastic, hand-picked resources on our website to help you through that process.
Q: "After I've completed my ID your IP, will I get to meet with a Traklight representative to discuss my intellectual property? My reports?"
A: No. Traklight does not offer in-person reviews of your information. This is a discussion you may want to have with your lawyer. After you've completed ID your IP, you'll have a great foundation to facilitate a more guided discussion with your attorney rather than going in to speak with them blindly. Additionally, it may benefit you to utilize our IP Vault®, Traklight's time-stamped file storage system, to securely share your sensitive IP and business documents with investors, trusted professionals, and colleagues.
Chris Platt, Traklight's Developer, also attended the Hacks4Humanity event on the first day as a mentor for each of the groups and mentioned that he enjoyed how all the groups were branching out. Project Humanities at ASU helped organize the event, and part of their core values push "talking, listening, and connecting," and each group truly encompassed these qualities. Chris told me he really felt that this was a community-building event and was impressed that, although all of the hackers' ideas were focused on the same seven concepts (forgiveness, respect, kindness, integrity, empathy, self-reflection, and compassion), each of their ideas remained very, very unique.
One in three companies do not have proper ownership rights for their own intellectual property based on mistakes made at the start. We hope that each of the participants will realize the importance of having an IP strategy.
Do you have the next multi-million dollar idea? Are you at risk of losing that idea?