Many would agree that success in business starts with a unique idea. You don't have to be the first to have the idea. It is more important to be the first person to formally register the idea. This is where working with an intellectual property attorney comes into play.
Simply securing IP rights through the government does not ensure you will realize the full financial potential of this intangible asset, however. A reliable IP attorney, especially one adept in managing assets, can take advantage of opportunities as they develop and prove beneficial to your business.
While obtaining IP rights is essential, it is only one of many factors in taking something from seed to fruit. To maximize value, it helps to employ strategies that anticipate and avoid possible pitfalls. These would include:
- Avoid obligation conflicts: If you are currently employed, you need to know if you have signed a Confidentiality and Invention Assignment Agreement. Many employers, especially in the technology sector, have these. They obligate employees to assign any new business-related ideas they develop to the company. To pursue IP rights for your idea, you need to be able to show you developed it entirely apart from your employment.
- Protect your personal stake: It's your idea and your potential company. But others you work with could make claims unless you have detailed terms of relationship spelled out in written agreements. If you have a company formed, consider having others who contribute to your effort sign a Confidentiality and Invention Assignment Agreement in your favor.
- Leverage the arsenal of IP protection: Patents are important, but simpler and less expensive forms of IP protection (trademarks, service marks, trade secrets, copyrights, formal policies) are useful as well. Think in terms of branding and protecting that brand.
- Build an IP portfolio: Don't go on a shopping spree, but do watch for acquisition opportunities that complement your core objectives. Then, monitor your portfolio to act offensively or defensively as situations might dictate.
- Act globally: If there's a chance you will enter into global transactions, plan to apply for any IP protection from the foreign jurisdictions where you will have relationships.
At any given time, infringements by others or claims of infringement against you could crop up. Your instinct might be to face them all head-on, on your own. However, a more strategic approach would take the long-term into account and involve working with an intellectual property attorney skilled at addressing the full spectrum of your possible legal needs.