Every startup will come up with a variety of plans. These likely include, among others, a marketing strategy, a business plan and an exit strategy.
In addition to these plans, tech startups should also consider developing an intellectual property (IP) strategy. IP is usually an important underpinning of a company's value, and time should be dedicated to thinking through and developing a detailed plan to protect it.
What is an IP strategy?
When you create a business plan, you consider what the business needs to accomplish and what resources that will require.
An IP strategy functions the same way. A well thought-out IP strategy considers what proprietary information, techniques, inventions, brands, etc., that the company has or needs, and identifies the best method(s) to protect this proprietary information.
Common mistakes regarding IP
For a tech startup, the value of the company is often tied directly to executing a technology better than competitors. For this reason, protecting IP should be a priority. However, many startups make mistakes when it comes to their IP strategy.
1. Tunnel vision: A company may be hyper-vigilant about one particular aspect of their IP but forget to protect other proprietary information that is vital to their business. For tech startups, this may be patenting a technology but forgetting to protect operational know-how and practices that are just as important.
2. Shotgun approach: This happens when the owners of the business do not take a comprehensive approach to their IP. They may file for a single patent and try to register a trademark, but they may miss important details about how to best protect all their intellectual assets.
3. Delay: Not protecting IP at the start of a venture can be disastrous. For example, publicly disclosing or offering for sale a new product containing a patentable invention may prevent the company from obtaining patent protection. Addressing IP considerations too late can lead to costly remedies or result in inadequate protection or a complete loss of IP rights.
When it comes to IP, foresight can save a company both time and resources. Working with an experienced IP attorney can help a company develop a comprehensive IP strategy, document all protectable IP assets, and find the best ways to protect those assets.