Start-ups usually don’t have a significant asset base. They could be an individual with an innovative idea who hasn’t begun to trade, or a small business, which has just started operating. It’s critical for the start-up to identify and protect the assets they do have i.e. “intellectual assets” which will differentiate, deliver competitive advantage, and go on to drive revenue.
Conversely, failure to identify and protect your intellectual assets can mean your business fails, generally because someone more established sees the business succeeding, and takes the essence of what is special about it–innovation. Or it could be that you are inadvertently building your business around someone else’s intellectual assets, in which case they may simply require you to stop.
How then do you protect your intellectual assets? The answer is, depending on the type of intellectual asset, it may be able to be protected as “intellectual property” (IP). This is the name for legally enforceable intellectual rights. There are lots of different types of IP: copyright, trademarks, patents, industrial designs, and trade secrets probably being the ones you hear mentioned most frequently. People will often say: “But the business doesn’t have any IP.” This shows a basic misunderstanding about what IP is– it also pre-supposes that IP, like a physical asset, is something you always need to consciously “make” or “purchase.”
We provide services on IP strategy which is based on the needs not only of the business in the present, but also provides a framework for protecting the business as it grows. We help the start-up’s by putting a simple processes in place to identify a business’s IP as it is created, then capture it, and finally protect it. We will also help the business to take measures to check it isn’t infringing someone else’s IP. Protecting IP will mean different things to different businesses. It could mean protecting software, AI technology, furniture designs, or brands. It may involve preserving copyright and trade secrets, or perhaps registering patents, designs, domain names, or trademarks.