How to protect a good business idea?
Many of you have dreamt of becoming entrepreneurs. And maybe, one day you had a great business idea. So, you entered a partnership with one or several friends skilled in a specific field and… you set up a startup.
You may not know it but any business owns (or should own, in order to be viable) a portfolio of at least a few minimal intellectual property assets – a www domain name, a commercial name, a logo, a trademark (maybe even an unregistered one), know-how, trade secrets – which all offer a competitive advantage. Moreover, depending on the type of activity carried out by the startup, intellectual property may entail more sophisticated assets: copyright in computer programs, in mobile apps, in graphics or in video games, legal rights in commercial databases, licenses, patents, etc.
As a whole, all these represent one of the most valuable assets of the startup and they should not be neglected; on the contrary, they must be protected – enhancing their value.
So, one legitimate question arises: what can entrepreneurs do to protect their business idea and their intellectual property portfolio, when pitching and pursuing financing from various sources – given that business ideas are not protected by copyright (as one might mistakenly believe)?
Most of the times, in a pitch, people focus on starting discussions in order to establish all aspects of an eventual partnership (financing from a business angel, joint-venture, etc). Implicitly, there will be a disclosure of information regarding the business idea, possible key-elements of intellectual property that are at the foundation of the business, etc. – information that should remain confidential and should not be used without your prior written consent.
In the optimistic scenario, after this “match-making” phase, one might enter a successful “marriage” materialized in a contract that will detail, among others, aspects regarding: project implementation, all financial claims (including those of the investor or of the trading partner) and exploitation of intellectual property. However, in the pessimistic scenario – where such partnership does not come to life, you should take proper steps in order to protect the information you share.
Read the full article in Issue 23 of Today Software Magazine.
And remember, a solid business cannot be built without some legal tools that are correctly and efficiently used – when required, with proper help. So, do not play about this issue, as it can just cost you … a business.