As a busy entrepreneur or manager, you undoubtedly have a lot of things on your plate. As a result, it’s easy for less urgent matters to fall to the wayside until issues arise that make you think of them and take action. Intellectual property (IP) is one such area that tends to get pushed down the to-do list by many people.
However, if you want to avoid a lot of headaches and stress in the future, not to mention financial problems, it’s essential to understand this subject area to at least a decent degree. Then, take steps to try and protect your venture. In doing so, you’ll want to avoid some of the most common IP mistakes many people make.
Not Setting Up Any IP in the First Place or Seeing It as Important
One of the most common errors in judgment people make about intellectual property is not paying attention to it. Many business owners don’t get around to or bother setting up any protection for their businesses regarding IP, often because they don’t understand how important it can be.
However, protecting your firm’s intangible assets can be critical for success and ensure you don’t lose a lot of business to your competitors. Plus, intellectual property can represent a significant percentage of the value of your company’s assets if you choose to sell it or seek investors.
Only Focusing on One Type
Some people take steps to ensure they have one type of IP organized but fail to understand other areas where they could use other types of intellectual property protection. For example, since patents are so well known as a concept, many entrepreneurs will know to go to the effort of submitting a patent application to stop others from being able to use their idea or method.
However, there are other types of intellectual property that you may need to get sorted. For example, there is copyright, created when you come up with musical and written works and other tangible creative mediums, and there are trademarks, which are the protections you can obtain for logos, names, taglines, and other brand material.
Don’t forget trade secrets, too. These are the processes, recipes, formulas, customer lists, or other confidential details that give your business a lot of its value that your competitors would love to know. Don’t neglect one or more IP types just because you think you are all organized in one area. You may need to understand your intellectual property rights for numerous business assets.
Failing to Make a Thorough IP Plan
Another mistake you want to avoid is failing to make a thorough IP plan. You may have a detailed business plan and plans for how you will approach your marketing campaigns for the year or quarter, but how much have you thought about preparations from an intellectual property point of view?
If you haven’t taken the time to create a plan to best protect and harness your venture’s intangible assets, you’re doing yourself and your business a disservice. Devising a plan about IP will help you avoid having unnecessary hurdles to jump and minimize the risks of misspending time and money. Use an IP plan as a roadmap to enable you to get the most value out of your firm’s innovations and show you and your team how to best prioritize IP-related tasks.
Not Getting Help or Conducting Enough Research
When running a small business or trying to maximize the profits of a growing one, it’s common to cut expenses wherever possible. This means that many entrepreneurs don’t rely enough on outside assistance. While you may want to reduce your outgoings, don’t do so at the expense of necessary advice. Many people won’t get help from a business lawyer to submit IP paperwork or otherwise protect themselves, which becomes a problem later.
Also, some leaders of companies might be open to hiring specialists to help them with IP, but they don’t do enough research of their own first to understand what type of intellectual property protection is needed or how to correctly fill out the paperwork for submissions.
Avoid making life harder for yourself by ensuring you reach out to experts as needed and learn many things about the different types of IP. You need to know how to trademark a name effectively, which elements of your business and its assets need protecting, and the best type of intellectual property for each.
Other mistakes to avoid are rushing the process of organization IP protection, submitting your documents too late (especially for patents), and forgetting to make confidentiality agreements that will help keep your company’s trade secrets and other details safe. Try to avoid all of these errors, and you should find that your business thrives more over the years.