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.
Using others’ IP can be even more expensive – Don’t make the mistake of automatically assuming your idea is original and belongs to you. The USPTO website has a search feature for patents and trademarks that allows you to check if your idea is owned by another entity. Also, don’t assume you have the right to use something like an image pulled off the Internet just because you don’t see a copyright ©. Using images taken from the Internet without first reading the licensing can result in a lawsuit, and that’s a headache you can’t afford.
Taking the time to sit down to make sure your IP is defined and protected is vital for the growth of your business. Don’t think of it as time that could be spent doing other tasks; think of it as an investment in your company’s future.
Mary Juetten, Founder and CEO of Traklight.com, 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 help educate and 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 tools and resources, Traklight users can protect their IP, and prevent infringement disputes and subsequent losses of large sums of money. Follow Traklight on Facebook, Twitter, or their blog