Why Don’t Small Businesses Protect Their Intellectual Property?

By Mary Juetten

Intellectual PropertyIt’s a widely-held belief that small businesses are the main driver of the US economy. Small businesses have a greater ability to create new jobs than middle and large-sized companies. So what is 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 done enough 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 Scott 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.  (more…)

Top 3 Intellectual Property Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Intellectual_property_locksThere are so many elements and decisions that go into starting a business that it’s not uncommon for things to get overlooked. Unfortunately, one element that often gets overlooked is a company’s current and potential intangible assets, and that oversight can be costly. Failing to identify or even understand the value of these assets can put a business at risk of losing out on funding from investors or protecting that intellectual property. Consider getting help from an expert if you have been making any of these three common intellectual property mistakes.

  1. Not doing your homework before starting your business

One of the first mistakes any startup can make is to not do research on their idea to understand what similar companies or products exist, or on existing registered IP related to their own creation. Many don’t even establish any sort of IP strategy to address any issues that may arise, hoping that they never have to worry about it. Unfortunately, ignorance isn’t an excuse.

It is crucial to research existing IP to make sure your company will not infringe on someone else’s copyrights, trademarks, and patents. Thorough research will also allow you to understand what ideas are legally yours and therefore able to be protected. Clearly defining what your company owns and what belongs to another person or entity will help you accurately assess the value of your business venture.  (more…)

How Could 64% Of Businesses Neglect This One Valuable Asset?!

By Mary Juetten

TraklightIf you’ve just opened a new business, this question perhaps hasn’t crossed your mind yet: Is IP part of your business’s foundation? In order to answer, you might wish to understand your intellectual property (IP) and how it factors into making any money. But before you do that, statistics tell us you probably aren’t paying enough attention to how important your IP is. Some small businesses do not fully comprehend the importance of what IP does for them and that is the crucial mistake they are making.

These statistics come from Small Business Trends presenting information gathered over the last four years. They point out that out of all major IP categories, most of them haven’t been protected enough through companies with less than 500 employees. Please keep in mind these were companies that deal with research and development where IP would be of central importance.

In the report from the National Science Foundation, we see concern toward smaller companies in how much financial potential they’re losing out on not paying attention to their IP. Some of the categories not being explored range from patents to trade secrets, with the latter being one of the most important (and unprotected or abused) areas of IP.  (more…)

To License or Assign: An Intellectual Property Conundrum

By Mrigrank Mishra

Traklight_post_2015-02-02As a small business owner with intellectual property (IP), you have to leverage your assets to work for you. We have talked a number of times about the importance of protecting your IP and the necessary steps to achieve that end. The next step involves making the IP generate capital in more ways than just product sales. You may at times need to enter into an agreement with a third party with respect to that intellectual property. There are a number of different types of agreements that affect IP.

Assignment

Just like tangible property, intellectual property can be conveyed, or assigned, to a new owner. If you are selling your business, you will need to convey the associated intellectual property to the new owner. Assigning IP entails transferring all rights associated with it to the assignee. You cannot then use the IP and claim creating it originally as a defense against infringement. Furthermore you cannot resell the same IP to another person if specifically mentioned in the agreement. Another scenario involving possible assignment is in the case of infringement. In many such cases, as part of a settlement, the party infringing the IP will be made to assign any rights it accrued to the rightful owner.

License Agreements

All types of IP can be assigned to others to use. With respect to patents, for instance, the inventor often never manufacturers anything. Instead, they license the patent to third parties to manufacture the product. They then collect licensing fees and, most likely, goes on to patent their next invention, repeating the process as much as possible. These agreements control how the licensor can use the IP, stipulate the fees associated with the license (if any), and assure that all use by the licensor inures to the benefit of the licensee.  (more…)

IP Strategy For Startups

By Emily Ely

IP Strategy for StartupsDeveloping a solid intellectual property (IP) strategy is essential for emerging companies preparing for market entrance. Various forms of IP can usually be found in company’s portfolio and identifying these assets based on business goals and assumed future opportunities are at the core of that strategy. The following are a few tips to keep in mind to improve your IP strategy for startups.

Questions to think about when establishing an initial IP strategy:

• Who owns the fundamental technology in your space – i.e. who are the key organizations filing and    buying patents in your market segment and what are they working on?
• Where are the opportunities for strategic growth, investment, or licensing within your field?
• How rapidly is new innovation taking place in your space?
• Where are the new and emerging technologies being developed in your space?
• Which patents are the most valuable for your products?
• Do your customers value IP to demonstrate they are purchasing innovative products?  (more…)