By Gunnar Pippel on ShutterstockThis is the era of the digital. Every now and then, diverse kinds of businesses spring up, promising the next big thing. These businesses usually start out having bright prospects as well as looking to offer stellar services and solutions. Businesswise, these start-ups seem to have everything in place. Marketing, finance, accounting, operations, distribution, organization, etc, all sorted out. Yet, an important aspect of their business strategy is often ignored, that is, intellectual property.In today’s digital economy, intellectual property (IP) is a very important aspect that can no longer be overlooked. Intangibles now command a large share of the overall worth of businesses as a result of the evolution from the industrialized economy to the knowledge-driven economy. In the knowledge-driven economy, the greatest assets of businesses are their technological innovations, creations, brand, and goodwill, all of which can be protected as intellectual property.Start-ups, particularly at the seed stage, fail to realize that they possess intangible or intellectual assets worth protecting, as their focus at this time is getting seed funding for their business and getting it running. If precautions are not taken, they may realize too late that some of their most important assets have been misappropriated or have become subjects of serious contention.Here are some of the common mistakes Start-ups make with regards to their IP.
Not Protecting Their IP Early EnoughStart-ups sometimes make the mistake of not seeking IP protection for their intangible assets early enough. These could be due to several reasons including:
- Considering IP protection too expensive, especially at the earliest stages of the business. It is more expensive, trying to fix the consequences of failing to take necessary precautions from the onset, than trying to seek IP protection at the appropriate time. Your IP may fall into the public domain if you are unable to prove that yours is first in time. This is because registration with the appropriate agencies is the surest way to prove priority.
- Hastening to enter into the market with their goods or services. Some start-ups make the mistake of releasing their goods or services into the market before securing protection for their IP. This likely stems from the misconception that protection could be secured at any time. However, as with some classes of IP, there is a window of opportunity for securing protection, failure to do so could likely result in the IP falling into the public domain.
- Ignorance of the fact that every start-up has at least one class of IP. These could include clients' lists, customer databases, manuals, designs, colours, logos, software, etc.
- Considering IP protection unnecessary. This happens mostly when Start-up owners are unaware of the benefits of early IP protection for their IP assets.