It’s a common belief that small businesses are the main driver of the US economy. This is because their ability to create new jobs is greater than that of middle and large-sized companies. So what is really keeping them from protecting their intellectual property? While the federal government has implemented a number of measures to assist aspiring entrepreneurs to start their own business, it hasn’t really done much to educate them on the importance of intellectual property (IP) protection or the value of intangible assets. Below are a few IP-related challenges that US small businesses face today.
Lack of emphasis
It wasn’t until recently that the federal government recognized the need to develop informational tools about IP protection for American companies. This move originated in part from an article written by Baldwin stating that only 15% of US small businesses conducting business overseas were aware that US patents don’t protect them abroad. It would thus seem fair to conclude that US startups are at a disadvantage when it comes to IP protection compared to larger, global companies.
Limited financial resources
The theft of intellectual property is a reality in today’s global business environment. Companies that fail to protect their inventions are set to record huge financial losses. According to the FBI, IP theft costs billions of dollars each year to US companies. Fraudsters specifically target startups because of their limited ability to respond legally. Smaller businesses usually struggle to stay afloat financially, especially during the first years of their creation. They clearly don’t have the financial resources to file lawsuits against thieves.
The cost of the different approaches to IP protection
If you plan on entering a new market, then you should first find out which types of IP protection are available. As you might know, the type of protection depends on your invention or innovation. You may for example file for any or all of patents, copyrights, trademarks, and also use trade secret protection. Make sure you have chosen and file for the appropriate protection prior to launching the commercialization of your idea.
Because of the magnitude of intellectual property theft over the past few years, it’s has been listed as a top priority by the International Trade Administration. This is very good news for startups since it means that new solutions to tackle this rampant problem more efficiently will soon emerge. In the meantime, small business owners should ensure that IP protection and strategy is part of ongoing business plans.
We'll help you on your journey to protecting your IP. First, take the Risk Quiz to find out your risk of unidentified IP.