A start-up client of mine recently invested a significant amount of time and money on branding, signage and its website. What it didn’t do was think about whether its chosen name would pose any issues as far as intellectual property rights were concerned.
Three days before my client’s launch, someone quipped ‘watch out, they might come after you one day!’ referring to the similarity of its chosen name to another household name dabbling in the same industry. This lead to some research and, ultimately, pushed my client to go back to the drawing board in search of a new name and reboot the branding process in supersonic mode. This all costs money, not to mention the stress.
When you are a start-up, contracts and intellectual property protections are not, understandably, at the forefront of your mind. However, protecting your ideas and creations is just as important as getting your business off the ground.
Of course, names and logos are not the only forms of intellectually property. You will need to think about how and what it is you do as a business to determine which types of intellectual property are relevant and, therefore, need consideration and protection.
Think about what you are providing (goods and/or services), how (via employees and/or consultants, or yourself) and who do you buy from and sell to?
Forms of protection will include registering your intellectual property as well as contractual provisions in any employee, consultancy, supplier or customer contracts.
Your long-term plans will also be relevant here. If you are likely to want an exit in the next few years or even obtain outside investment, you are almost certainly going to face issues if you have not protected your intellectual property. Anyone buying from you or investing in your business will want to know that something as crucial as intellectual property does, without a doubt, belong to you and your business.
For further information on how we can support your start-up business with intellectual property please contact our IP lawyers.