Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Tips For Startups: How To Make Sure Your IP Is Working For You

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Two things that startups never seem to have enough of are: time and money. It can be difficult to carve out enough of both to properly identify, manage, and protect your intellectual property (IP). Your IP, including your patents, industrial designs and trademarks, is at the center of your company’s value. As a result, protecting your IP is crucial and will give your company the boost it needs to succeed in a competitive marketplace. Knowing your IP is essential to identifying your competitive advantage, focusing your R&D efforts, and creating an innovative company culture. IP should be the main component of your business plan and your pitch to customers and investors as it is normally your main selling point.
As a startup, you already have passion for your business, and you are convinced that you will be successful. Now, in order to apply your passion to the right strategy, you should ask yourself a series of questions to help pinpoint and identify what IP you currently possess and if it is valuable:
  • What you are doing that is new? What new features have you added, or improvements have you made lately?
  • What makes your product better, or faster, or more accurate, or more efficient than your competitor’s products?
  • What features of your product do customers value the most when making purchasing decisions?
  • Is your company name or logo unique in your industry? Did you check to make sure no one else has it registered as a trademark?
  • Have you designed a new product with a distinctive name, product shape, physical design or packaging?
  • Once you choose your name and logo, have you been consistently using it on your products, packaging, marketing materials, your website and your social media? Document the date you first used it!
One way to answer these questions is to formally evaluate your IP, you could use an IP law firm to do it, which is always recommended but you could also try to figure it out yourself by doing some market and competitor research.
Ideas born from your IP evaluation can form the basis for the future direction of your R&D, which will eventually turn into more patents, industrial designs, and trademarks that you will want to protect and leverage going forward.
Now that you have defined your “secret sauce” you can use it in several ways:
  • File a patent to demonstrate that you have a technological advantage important enough that you are willing to invest in a patent to protect it.
  • Gain credibility with financial investors and VCs. Include it in your pitch and highlight it in your business plan.
  • Get your sales and marketing people to highlight the IP incorporated into your products when interacting with customers.
  • Use your IP to develop and foster a culture of innovation in your company. Celebrate inventors to encourage the generation of new ideas.
  • Leverage your IP to form strategic partnerships and alliances to scale up your business or license out your IP for royalty revenue.
  • Build and protect your brand by consistently monitoring your trademarks to make sure no competitors are using them, and cause customers to mistake a competitor's product for yours.
Your IP is already there. However, you need to take the time to identify it, protect it, then learn how to artfully articulate it to investors and customers to get the most out of it.

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This article is general information only and is not to be taken as legal or professional advice. This article does not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and MBM Intellectual Property Law LLP. If you would like more information about intellectual property, please feel free to reach out to MBM for a free consultation.


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