Starting a new business can be exciting. With all the work that is associated with managing a start-up company, it can be easy to overlook the importance of protecting your inventions and ideas with patents.
Having your intellectual property stolen (or inadvertently stealing the intellectual property of someone else) could result in a costly legal battle. Develop an effective patent strategy now to ensure your start-up has the proper protection.
Require employees to sign information disclosure forms.
It's essential that you know about new technologies and ideas being developed by your employees as soon as possible. The quicker you identify potentially valuable pieces of intellectual property, the stronger your patent application will be.
Information disclosure forms should be used to help employees report any discoveries that may have long-term value. Circulate these information disclosure forms throughout your workforce, and ensure that all employees understand the importance of filling them out quickly and accurately.
Draft comprehensive employment agreements.
Many start-up companies have a high rate of turnover. Some even rely on independent contractors to fulfill vital tasks rather than full-time employees. It's important that your employees and contractors know that any inventions they stumble upon during the course of their work will be the intellectual property of your business.
Work with your attorney to draft employment agreements that explicitly outline an employee's responsibility to assign the rights for any inventions or ideas to your new business. Comprehensive employment agreements will prove beneficial when you try to file patents applications in the future.
Keep your documents organized.
One of the critical tasks that you must do if you want to streamline the patent process is keep all of your company's documents organized. All intellectual property-related documents should be stored in the same location. This can be a dedicated file on your computer, or an actual physical filing cabinet that will house necessary documents.
Maintaining proper organization will allow you to easily access information required to fill out your patent applications. Documents that are easy to locate will also facilitate the disclosing of information to potential investors who want to verify your due diligence in relation to intellectual property.
An effective patent strategy can help your start-up company become more successful. It's critical that you implement this strategy from the very beginning to avoid having potentially valuable inventions and ideas stolen by your competitors. Work closely with a patent strategy consulting service to help you create a patent strategy that will set your company up for success.