Is your valuation important? How to protect your IP!
If you’ve got a startup, you’ll know about the importance of intellectual property. Often, it’s the only thing that separates you from the competition and makes your company viable. What’s more, venture capitalists will often only invest in startups if they have defensible IP. VCs understand the importance of having real intellectual wealth that can’t be appropriated by some third party.
Thus, every startup today needs some sort of IP plan for success. Intellectual property in today’s market is as valuable and as tradeable as stocks. And new companies can make a killing by licensing their technology to other companies that might benefit. Some of the biggest enterprises in the world seem to agree. Apple, Google and Microsoft combined have spent more than $18 billion on IP in the last six months. And every year, their combined spend increases. Just like them, you want a diverse, tradable store of knowledge wealth you can use to scale your company. But how do you do it?
Hedge Against Future Technological Advance
Large companies are always on the lookout for the next big thing in tech. Anticipating what’s coming next puts them at a distinct advantage. We’ve seen some crazy patent filings from the likes of Samsung and Apple. Apple, for instance, has filed a patent for a watch that projects a keypad onto the user’s arm.
Though these might sound superfluous, they’re actually very sensible decisions. Apple, like most companies, doesn’t know which of all the possible future will come to pass. So it patents everything it can to cover all possible bases. Perhaps we won’t get watches that project onto our arms. But if we do, Apple will hold all the intellectual property rights over the technology.
Secure Your Trademark
There’s a reason companies use trademarks: it’s what makes them noticeable. It’s also often a badge of quality that prevents other companies from stealing their credibility. For startups, however, the problem isn’t so much having their brand stolen from them. It’s infringing on another company’s IP. A good trademark attorney can help prevent your startup from making this mistake. And it can also contribute to maintaining the integrity of your brand over the longer term.
Start Pre-Emptive Patenting
It’s important that startups don’t just patent technologies that are important to them. They should also license the technologies that are critical to their competition. Holding a patent that is only indirectly related to your business is an excellent way to build up capital quickly. Big firms that need access to an important technology will be willing to pay for it. And so, your startup could get a windfall through license payments.
The patent office isn’t renowned for its speedy turnarounds. Sometimes it can take a year or more for a patent application to be considered. The good news, however, is that by simply filing for a patent, you reserve your spot in the queue. That means if another person files an idea similar to yours after you submit, they have to wait their turn. After you’ve submitted your application, you’ve got a 12-month window in which you can expand on your filing.