Even the tiniest start-ups may have valuable intellectual property (IP). From your business’s name to your product’s unique design, you’ll have assets that differentiate you from competitors. Because the value of these intellectual property assets will only increase as your organization develops, getting things right from the outset is critical.
This checklist summarizes some of the most critical intellectual property issues for start-up firms and the measures you should take when getting started. Your accountant or solicitor should be able to lead you through this maze, but make sure you have an accountant that is used to working with startups.
- Conduct clearance searches
Before investing time and money into growing your business under a certain name, ensure that the name is not already in use. Conduct a search for active trade marks, both registered and unregistered, and keep in mind to examine both names and logos. This will assist in avoiding unwarranted disputes with pre-existing rights. Learn how to conduct a trademark search.
- Determine whether a domain name is accessible
Prior to deciding on a trade mark, you may choose to check for the availability of a suitable domain name. You’ll want one that is relevant to your selected trade mark and has not been claimed previously. You may choose to search for and register domain name variations. This may assist you in avoiding certain often occurring domain name and trademark issues.
- Obtain registration for your business name, brand, and logo.
Registration enables you to safeguard your rights and safeguard your property from misuse. Because trade marks are territorial in nature, you must register them in the jurisdictions where your firm operates. Find extensive information about trademarks.
- Determine whether you have any other forms of intellectual property holdings.
Along with trade marks, you may have other forms of intellectual property that are worth safeguarding. For instance, you can register design assets or patent novel procedures and equipment. Conduct an intellectual property audit to ascertain the IP you own and its monetary worth to your firm.
- Maintain the confidentiality of information
Take cautious not to divulge any fresh ideas or inventions prior to filing for protection. This is critical when it comes to patents, as disclosure might render your application null and void. Consider alternative methods of protecting sensitive information, such as non-disclosure agreements.
- Defend your unregistered IP address
Certain rights are inherent – you do not have to ask for protection. Copyright and unregistered design rights are two examples. Because these rights are not registered, it may be difficult to establish ownership or to allege infringement if someone is abusing your rights. It is a good habit to maintain written proof regarding the development of your work in order to avoid future problems.
- Avoid trespassing on the rights of others
If you desire to make use of intellectual property rights that you do not own, ensure that you get the necessary licenses in advance. You can either license or purchase the rights entirely. Take extreme care not to violate the rights of others, since this can result in reputational harm, legal action, and severe fines and penalties.
Why Trade Marks are Important
Why should you register your brand name as a trademark?
- Is the brand name you wish to use available? It is prudent to do a search before to launching your business or product to ensure that no one else is using it or has registered it as a trade mark. As a certified trade mark expert, I can do an availability search and identify potential roadblocks for your trademark.
- Is your brand name sufficiently strong? It is usually simpler to register a unique, memorable, easily pronounceable, and emotionally attractive trade mark. Distinguish yourself from the throng. With a powerful name, it’s simpler to prevent competitors from utilizing a similar mark.
- Trademark your brand. This notifies other rivals that you own your brand and discourages them from using one similar to yours. Once you have acquired a trade mark, you will have legal standing to pursue an infringement action against any rival who uses your brand without your consent.
- If someone opposes your trade mark or attempts to compel you to cease using it, the likelihood of success may be diminished by your registered trade mark and the papers you retain. The first-person rule applies in all judicial proceedings. Legal protection is granted to the first person to submit and register a trade mark.
- A trade mark may be registered even if it has not been used yet. However, it is critical to utilize your trade mark within five years of registration to avoid having it canceled. If you do not use your trade mark, another rival may apply to the trade markings office to have it removed from the register, at which point they may begin using it. Utilize your trademark or risk losing it.
- Is your business expanding internationally? You can either make a single application for trade marks in Europe or an international application via the Madrid system, in which you specify all of the countries in which you wish to conduct business. Because each country’s trademark regulations are unique, I can advise you on the optimal method for submitting an international trade mark application.
- Do you own a trademark or a logo? The process of registering a brand name is somewhat distinct from that of registering a logo. A brand name protects only the name. In comparison to a logo or stylized word mark, you receive protection for the visual features of the mark. Both have their advantages, but a name may be overly detailed and hence ineligible for trademark protection, whereas a logo with distinctive visual components may be the ideal alternative.
- Once a trade mark is registered, it becomes your exclusive property for the remainder of your life or until you cease to use it. As your firm grows and your reputation improves, the value of your brand increases, and you may enter into licensing and franchising deals, as well as sell your brand.
- Your most important corporate asset is your trademark. As with a residence, it can be sold, leased, rented, or used as collateral to get a loan. A registered trade mark is a property asset, and you, too, have the ability to perform all of the above.
These are just some of the questions you will need to answer before starting a business, there are many more, I also suggest getting help at this stage when setting up your company.