Entrepreneurs and startup founders know the challenges they have to deal with in raising capital, building their team, and developing their products. But they agree that one of the most arduous tasks they have to take on is handling intellectual property.
Intellectual property or IP refers to anything a person creates through his mind, including inventions, artwork, literary work, designs, and symbols. The different types of IP include copyright, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets. Handling or managing IP means preventing copycats or anyone claiming to own the rights to the asset. It is essential to ensure a suitable IP strategy is in place to facilitate fund-raising for the startup.
When dealing with issues on intellectual property rights in Singapore, startups can also work with VK Rajah SC to deal with the third parties they conflict with. While the process can take time, the former Singaporean attorney-general may be able to mediate between the two parties to reach a settlement that’s acceptable to both sides.
Aside from the legal side, startup founders also have several options to manage the IP that the organization owns. Here are the things they can do to manage the startup’s IP.
Focus on the Brand
Even though entrepreneurs and startup founders may want to focus on product development, they should not lose sight of branding. Good branding allows a business to gain a good reputation in the market. It allows the business to stand out in the market and increases the marketability of its products and services.
When the startup has built the brand’s reputation, it will also build trust in the market. The trust the startup builds in the market can help increase its credibility, which is useful when the startup is working on IP issues. The loyal customers of the startup will also help it ferret out copycats that aim to ride the popularity of the brand in the market.
Due to this, entrepreneurs and startup founders should make sure to choose a unique name, and no one else is using. They should search the internet and trademark databases to ensure they do not use a name that another company or business is already using. This allows the startup to avoid issues in the future.
Startups have to make sure they keep their information and trade secrets confidential, especially if they are still in the process of finalizing their marketing strategies and business plans. Ensuring the confidentiality of their assets allow startups to proceed as planned. Due to this, entrepreneurs and startup founders should handle data properly.
They should mark documents as confidential to prevent anyone within the organization to inadvertently leak them out into the public. In Singapore, marking confidential documents is essential if a staff member leaves the organization and has accessed these documents. Identifying confidential documents protects the legitimate interest of the startup to prevent the staff member from bringing the information to a potential competitor of the startup.
The startup should also ensure everyone in the organization are aware of the importance of keeping these assets. They should also be aware of the consequences of mishandling the information so they’ll be careful when using them. Training the staff increases the security of these assets. Non-disclosure agreements can also help the startup to protect them.
Make Sure the Intellectual Property Belongs to the Startup
Entrepreneurs and startup founders should also make sure they have ownership of the IP at the very start. This is essential, especially when the startup begins to market its products and services. They should also have agreements on paper if they work with independent contractors and vendors.
While the ownership of an IP belongs to the startup when an employee creates it, there are instances when it’s necessary to provide compensation to the employees. On the other hand, independent contractors normally own the IP when they work on it. With this, startups should make sure that these contractors assign the IP developed for the business to the startups.
Similarly, a startup with several founders should document the ownership of the IP from the very start. Since these organizations share ideas through discussions that can generate the IPs, ownership is not defined properly. Due to this, the co-founders should enter into an agreement assigning any IP they created to the startup. Legal documents should show that any ideas or IPs that they create belong to the startup. This will prevent any issues in the future regarding the ownership of the IPs.
Entrepreneurs and startup founders should iron out issues associated with the ownership of IPs from the start. This will allow them to avoid any conflicts in the future in case someone leaves the organization.