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Starting a business can prove extremely rewarding. If you’ve got your product or service ready to go, you’re probably ready to hit the ground running and start selling. While this may feel like a strong temptation, first make sure you cover all of your legal bases—including those related to intellectual property.
Generally speaking, intellectual property refers to intangible assets in which a person or business can have a property interest, such as creative works, processes, logos, designs, and client information. The intellectual property protections of which you may avail yourself include copyrights, patents, and trademarks.
Dealing with intellectual property concerns sooner rather than later can avoid ligation or having to completely rebrand, saving both time and money. For this reason, early-stage business owners should take the time to discuss intellectual property issues with an experienced lawyer.
Here are some of the most common I.P. concerns for entrepreneurs:
Many startups only have a single asset—an idea. This is particularly true in the tech space, where the ubiquitous reach of the internet can turn a simple idea into a multi-million (or even billion) dollar company. That’s why entrepreneurs must protect their ideas—whether for a product, service, or the latest app.
In some cases, you may need to shop your idea to different companies before it becomes a reality. This can create a problem—to shop your idea, you will need to disclose detailed information about it. There is always the risk that an interested party may hear your idea and then take it for themselves. To prevent such situations, you need that party to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) stating it will not misappropriate or share information about your idea.
If your idea involves new technological developments or an invention, you may want to apply for a patent or at least a provisional patent to protect ownership of your idea.
A large part of starting a new business is creating a company identity. Typically, this involves creating a business name, logo, website, and marketing materials that will allow people to identify the source of the goods or services that you are selling. You need to generate a distinctive business trademark that will make it easily protectable and registerable. In addition, you should engage in a thorough trademark search to ensure that your logo and name do not infringe on an existing mark.
Intellectual property is a highly specialized area of law, and also one that can make a substantial impact on the success of your business. As a result, businesses in all industries must make sure that they protect their intellectual property and take steps to avoid infringing on the intellectual property of others.
Houston business lawyer Andrew Weisblatt has practiced law since 1992 and works with businesses of all sizes in a wide variety of industries. To schedule a consultation with Mr. Weisblatt, call our office today at (713) 352-0847 or send us an email through our online contact form.