03 Useful tips
As a start-up company, you should take advantage of the benefits of safeguarding the assets you own by using the IP system as best as possible.
Undoubtedly, developing a sound IP strategy is a key for all businesses however it has vital importance especially for start-ups since the competitive business advantage of these young companies generally lies on novel technologies and inventions. For this reason, it is essential to consider IP beforehand and position your IP strategy as an integral part of your overall business strategy.
9 recommendations for taking the right IP measures for your business:
- Do not disclose any of your IP assets (e.g. inventions, know-how, designs, trademarks, etc.): Any disclosure (e.g. during fairs; when discussing with potential partners such as financers, technical partners, clients, etc.) might destroy the novelty character of your invention, which is mandatory for future patent or design protection). Besides, such a disclosure might cause you to lose your rights to register your trade mark since someone may file a same/similar trade mark, before you do so.
- Pay particular attention to copyright issues related to software: Ensure if you can legally use the material you integrated into your software code as it might be copyrighted. It is also important to confirm the compatibility between the licences under which software codes you are using. Also, do always check the national legislation as for software, some national legal frameworks might request to follow specific national rules/formalities for the protection of copyrighted material.
- Keep proofs of your documents related to your IP assets: It is always best to keep any evidence which may prove that you are the owner of the material developed and/or you developed that material on that particular date. For example, use systems like the Benelux IP Office’s i-DEPOT or the APP in France, etc. that provide a time stamping to the material.
- Never underestimate trade mark protection: When marketing your product or service, remember that the name under which you will sell your product or provide your service is important. Therefore, it is recommended to check the availability of the name for your product/service to avoid any infringement issues with the identical/similar trade mark owners.
- Do not confuse trade mark registration with company name registration: When you register your company to the trade registry, its name is only recorded as a corporate name, not as a trade mark. To get benefit from the trade mark rights, you should register your company name as a trade mark.
- Design rights are very useful when you would like to protect the aesthetical aspects of your products: Design could also apply for some layout/graphical aspects of your product. It is also possible to register such a right.
- IP rights are territorial: Your IP rights are limited to the territory(ies) of the country(ies) where they have been granted. Therefore, always foresee their registration in the markets you intend to target also in the future. Do always check the national rules.
- Check the IP databases before you file any registration: Checking the IP databases might give you an idea about the registrability of your IP rights and may make you avoid unnecessary filing costs.
- Work with IP professionals: Because of its specific nature, always seek professional support from IP professionals such as IP attorneys, IP lawyers, etc. They might be costly however; you may lose more if you file an unsuccessful IP application or face with an infringement issue.