The very first board meeting, the first meeting with a potential investor whose cash infusion could take your gig to the next level, the first product launch, hiring the first employees that can shape the future of your business, etc. are among few things that intimidate you if you’re a first-time entrepreneur.
You try your best shot to get these “first” things right. Just in case you miss the “first”, there is a second chance to get it right. For example, if the first pitch went bad, go back to drawing board, get it right, pitch to a second investor, and get the cash flow you were craving for.
But is there always a second chance for every mistake? No. There are mistakes that you as an entrepreneur, no matter first time or second time, shouldn’t commit at the first place. If you do, you are all set to regret for a long time.
And committing mistakes related to your intellectual property (IP) falls in the same group. As a startup, that most of the time running out of the money, you may not be able to get these mistakes corrected.
We all make mistakes due to lack of information or no information at all. And the IP related mistakes are a byproduct of lack of information. If you are aware what you should do, you may not commit them and save yourself a lot of pain.
Thus, in order to let you know what you should do, we will be discussing four common intellectual property related mistakes committed by entrepreneurs. Here you go:
You don’t file a Trademark to Protect Your Brand
There is a reason I put it on top because most of the businesses make this mistake so often. They name their business, get a logo designed and work their bones off to brand it. And later find someone else using the same name to sell identical product/service in the market.
Even worse, they can’t stop that someone else. Why? Because he has legal rights to use that brand name and logo as he filed a trademark for it.
Cure: file a trademark infringement suit and spend money like water to prove that you are the one who deserve that logo and that brand name.
But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And the cure here is to file Trademarks to register your brand name, logo, etc.
You Become a Victim of Cybersquatting by not registering your domain name
This is another common mistake which most startups commit. They file a trademark, work hard, get a name in the business world, but become late to register a domain name and fell prey to cybersquatting.
Cure: Again if you want to get the domain name back, you have to knock doors of a court. A trademark Litigation will make you spend in thousands if not millions.
Prevention: log on to Godaddy, spend 200Rs and get your domain name registered.
You Don’t Sign NDAs with Your Employees
Most of the tech startups and early stage companies fall prey to this. Friends of a founder or their employee work on or contribute to the core technology and later they join another company implement the same there.
Result: a startup loses its edge. Again as it’s an IP dispute, you have to knock the doors of a court.
Solution: If something is core to your business which can give your product an edge, get all the people working on it sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).
This is again a type of mistake which tech startups commit. They invent things and don’t file patents to protect their inventions/ideas and later find someone else’s using their technology with a patent protection over it.
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Again you have to knock doors of a court and stolen invention lawsuits are really complex as well as expensive.
Thus to negate these instances, you should file a patent. Patents, other than protecting your invention, also help in building reputation and in attracting VCs as they reflect innovation quotient of your company.
You File Cheap and bad quality patents
Some startups use patents to protect their inventions however, they follow bad practices. They choose money over quality and file low quality patents which fail to protect the technology. 90% of the patents are valueless, says Eric Halber, a thought leader of Intellectual Property domain.
Solution: if you file patents, only file strong patents. I suggest getting in touch with a patent good consulting firm that can help you in this endeavor.