You’ve got a great idea that’s going to revolutionize your industry. All you have to do now is build your business before someone else does. Here are ten ways you can keep your intellectual property from becoming someone else’s success story.
1. Know exactly what your intellectual property assets actually are.
Intellectual property includes designs, drawings, company names, slogans, logos, product ideas and inventions.
2. Document your idea in the form of drawings, documents, plans and descriptions.
These detailed plans will prove your ownership of your ideas. Make sure you file these plans in a dated document, so if anyone else claims your idea, you can prove that you came up with it first.
3. File a provisional application for a patent.
This is your first step toward your real patent, and it means you’ll be able to warn any potential idea thieves that your idea is “patent pending.” If your idea is not fully formed and you still have features to design and specifications to work out, you can file your provisional patent application and file another after you make changes.
4. Be choosy about who you share your idea with, and what details you reveal.
Most people aren’t out to steal your intellectual property, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Do a quick Google “background check” on anyone you’ll discuss your idea with if you do not already know and trust them.
5. Know who to be wary of.
You shouldn’t worry very much about sharing your concept with investors – they have reputations to protect, and they’ll need to know the intricate details before they decide to invest in your idea. You should worry about potential employees, possible partners and anyone who gives you a bad gut feeling.
6. Follow up with conversations via email.
If you’re speaking to someone about your business concept and they steal it, you’ll have a hard time proving that you ever discussed it with them. By using email, you will always have a dated, electronic account of your conversation.
7. Have employees and associates sign a nondisclosure agreement or NDA.
This is also known as a confidentiality disclosure agreement or CDA. Make sure this happens before you discuss any important details of your concept.
8. Use the trademark designation(TM) before you register for a trademark.
You don’t necessarily need to register to use the designation, and you can still protect your intellectual property without it, but you’ll need to prove that your brand name, logo, slogan and other distinguishing brand traits were yours first.
9. Know your copyright rights.
Copyrights only apply to authored works, such as songs, artworks, books, and articles. So, you won’t use a copyright for your company name or slogan – you’d use a trademark. Your copyright protection begins when your work is recorded in a tangible form – your song recorded, your book written, or your artwork painted.
10. Don’t be too afraid to talk about your idea.
You’ll need input and advice from others to help build a successful business and set your idea in motion. The odds of someone stealing your idea and building it better and sooner than you can are very low. You should be careful, but not at the risk of sabotaging your progress.
Choose your vendors wisely
Here’s a bonus eleventh tip – make sure you thoroughly vet any vendors or other business partners before you sign on to work with them. At 360 Payments, we take this very seriously – our integrity is central to who we are and how we do business. Give us a call at 1-855-360-0360 or drop us a line on our website – we’ll show you what we mean.
PS – Still struggling to take that leap and launch your business? Here’s some motivation.
PPS – Vet your employees well, too – we’ve got some tips.