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Posted in: Intellectual Property | Articles | Founder Issues | Copyright | Patents | Starting Up

Sep 21, 2015

Crafting a Suitable IP strategy -Tips from the Pros!

Not so long ago, a startup often needed a million dollars or more in seed capital to get itself off the ground and on the path to world domination. Today, however, we often see startups that have seed capital of a hundred thousand dollars or less, and who still have a real chance of succeeding. The "Lean StartUp" has truly arrived. The availability of cloud-based services, shared work spaces and the widespread network of incubators, accelerators (discussed by StartupSource here) and other available support services have transformed the startup ecosystem.

While many of the challenges facing startups have become less expensive or easier for start-ups to handle themselves, there are some very important challenges for which founders will need help. One of these is intellectual property protection, including patents, trademarks, designs and copyrights - as StartupSource has previously explored here. Another is getting the legal foundations set up correctly, discussed here with respect to incorporation and here regarding shareholders agreements.

Most startups should seek to select a defensible and suitable brand that they can properly protect with trademark registrations, when and where appropriate. This is especially important for any Internet-based product or service as the startup is effectively "going global" the day the website/product launches. Selecting an appropriate brand upfront can prevent the need to spend large amounts of money and time down the road to, at best, fix problems with the brand or, at worst, to rebrand the company/product. An early discussion of your plans with a trademark professional can be a crucial step. In many cases, a cost strategy can be developed that will minimize your early costs, while still providing reasonable protection.

Some forms of intellectual property (such as patents and/or industrial designs) have deadlines by which an application to protect those rights must be filed. Patents, in particular, are costly to obtain, and this can be problematic for startups. Yet, many startups are basing their business plans and valuations on their innovation; patents and industrial designs can be the most valuable asset of the company. One of the best strategies to secure protection for your innovation involves the filing of a self-written provisional patent application. On October 21, beginning at 5 p.m., Aird and Berlis will be hosting a hands-on session in which founders can learn the basics of patents from industry leading patent professionals. Click here for more details. Email us at if you would like to attend!

By Bob Stratton, Perry & Currier, Patent & Trademark Agents; Currier & Kao, IP Lawyers

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