In the early stages of your startup, it can be easy to get caught up with the demands of acquiring customers and growing your business. However, at this stage, it’s also important to solidify your brand by getting legal protection for it. Here, we’ll explain some ways you can protect your intellectual property early on and get back to focusing on what matters.
Trademark protect your assets
Your creative assets will directly connect with consumers and spark instant recognition of your business. However, this can all be undone if another business uses the same assets. To prevent this from happening, you can register your logo, business name, and even slogan as a trademark.
The benefit of doing this is that it will legitimise your brand, and you’ll also be able to prevent competitors from using anything that’s substantially similar. If you use your branding for a long amount of time and go to register it later, you may find that there’s already a similar trademark out there. This means you could inadvertently be infringing someone else’s trademark and get into legal trouble.
Get your startup a domain name
Most businesses these days have a website, and this is where a lot of your intellectual property will be on display. However, the name of your website itself is also hugely important. Not only will it appear on many of your marketing materials, but your customers will associate your domain name with your business. It’s important to remember that when you register a domain name, you are effectively leasing it for a period of time. After it expires, your name can be registered by someone else. A good way to combat this is to register a trademark for your business name. If someone else tries to register a domain name that is similar to your trademark, you can object to it.
Use NDAs where you need to
There will inevitably be times when you need to disclose private information about your business to people outside the business. Whether these are investors, prospective employees or contractors, it’s worth issuing them with a Non-Disclosure Agreement to make sure they don’t reveal this information to your competitors or other third parties. Using an NDA will ensure that your business’s valuable IP assets are kept in-house.
Use the right documents when outsourcing
Many startups outsource jobs such as website development, administration and accounting. Depending on the size of your startup, you might also have your logo and other design features done externally. When this is the case, it’s wise to make sure that the person you hire assigns the intellectual property to your business after completing the job. You can set this term out in a services agreement, or you can have them assign the intellectual property rights over to you by using an intellectual property agreement. This will ensure the ownership of these assets is in the name of your business, not the contractor you hired to design them.
The value of a brand can make or break a business. However, the more you invest in protecting your brand, the more valuable it will be to investors. For more information on protecting your intellectual property, it may be worthwhile getting in touch with an intellectual property lawyer.
Lawpath is Australia’s leading provider of online legal services for businesses and individuals, providing technology powered legal solutions at a fraction of the time, cost and complexity of the traditional system.
Jackie Olling is the Content Manager at Lawpath and manages the content team. She has a Law/Arts (Politics) degree from Macquarie University and is an admitted solicitor in the Supreme Court of NSW. She’s interested in how technology can help shape the future legal landscape.