Intellectual property (IP) is one of the most important components of any business, and yet it is often one of the most neglected. Amidst the furor of innovation and the pressure of day-to-day operations, IP can get lost in the shuffle. But neglecting your IP won’t resolve the issue; in fact, it puts your business at increasing risk every day. So why should entrepreneurs care about IP?
IP is your most valuable asset – Every company has IP whether they know it or not. After all, every business starts with an idea. And while your physical assets show up on your balance sheet, it’s your intangible assets that can set your company apart. Innovative products and processes, creative designs, distinctive signs and branding, and trade secrets are all part of your IP portfolio. As the economy shifts more towards information technology and services, those intangible assets have never been more valuable.
Failing to protect your IP can be expensive – Imagine: You’ve come up with a fantastic new idea–something that will revolutionize how we consume cat videos posted online. You don’t want to wait another day to get started changing the world, so you put off filing patents and trademarks to another day. Unfortunately for you, the patent system is now first to file (not first to invent), and someone else has swooped in and filed for a nearly identical invention in the interim. Even worse, you’ve put considerable time, effort, and money into a project that now has to be scrapped. Filing early will help you avoid these headaches and help you raise capital; investors want to know that you own your IP. (more…)