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. 

You can ease this process by seeking help from an IP expert in researching the field before you launch your business. While it may cost a bit more than the do-it-yourself approach, it’s a relatively small investment to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the idea at the heart of your business actually belongs to you.

  1. Not understanding how to protect your intangible assets

Failing to understand the difference between trademarks, patents, copyrights and trade secrets is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when trying to protect your IP.  Using the wrong type of protection could lead to other entities using your IP without any legal recourse.

Trademarks should be used to protect logos, brand names, slogans, and other ideas related to your branding strategy. Copyrights are used to protect original works from being reproduced and distributed without your consent. Patents grant you property rights on an idea or a product, which means a patented innovation cannot be used by anyone else. And trade secrets are intangible assets (inventions, confidential information, etc.) that would be valuable to your competitors and need to be protected with utmost secrecy but do not require formal filing.

It’s common to hear entrepreneurs say that they’ll file a patent on their idea, regardless of what type it may be.  Rather than guessing, talking to a professional can help you from making any irrevocable mistakes.  Traklight’s IP Snapshot report is a quick and easy way to share all your existing and potential IP with an attorney.

  1. Not establishing a long-term IP strategy

Many businesses make the mistake of believing that they only need to worry about IP during the early stages of their business to avoid infringing on the IP of others. But a solid IP strategy is an ongoing process for any successful business. Make sure that you are keeping you strategy updated to reflect any new ideas or products that your company has developed.

Having legal resources readily available can be invaluable to developing businesses. Many businesses avail themselves of either an in-house, full-time IP specialist or the services of a law firm specializing in IP.  Your IP specialist or law firm will act as your counselor when any issue regarding IP arises. This will help you avoid costly mistakes and protect all your innovations. In the long-term, the right IP protection strategy will boost the value of your business since you will legally own all your ideas (something that investors look for when deciding whether or not to risk their money with your business) and will also prevent other businesses from copying your brand.

Traklight logoMary Juetten, Founder and CEO of, developed the idea for Traklight while earning her JD and has leveraged 25+ years of business experience to globally launch Traklight in less than three years. Traklight is an innovative software company with a mission to empower you to be proactive in identifying, protecting, and leveraging your ideas for your startup, invention, or business. Through the use of online IP identification and storage tools and resources, Traklight users can protect their IP, and prevent infringement disputes and subsequent losses of large sums of money. Follow Traklight on FacebookTwitter, or their blog.