Many budding entrepreneurs fail to protect their intellectual property (IP) when starting out, only to realize their mistake when it is too late. Your IP will be your start-up’s biggest asset when launching a new company. Find out how to keep your intellectual property safe.

Protect the Name

The biggest reason start-up companies fail to protect their IP is because they believe they do not have anything worth protecting. Yet, every company will have some form of intellectual property worth defending. For example, the company and product names are both valuable business assets that must be protected, which is why you should secure their rights immediately. Browse the search engines and trademark databases to ensure no other company is using the desired names. If they are not, secure the name rights as soon as possible.

Educate Yourself on Intellectual Property

Set aside a day or two to learn more about the basics of intellectual property. You can then decide whether to register for a trademark, patent or copyright. A little time and research will ensure you select the right option for your business needs, which will prevent lengthy and expensive legal battles in the future.

Create Contracts of Ownership

Budding entrepreneurs tied to a tight budget may rely heavily on independent contractors to grow their company. However, if a contractor fails to sign a contract initially, a start-up company may not own the rights to the work, even if they paid a bill in full.

Secure your intellectual property by creating a standard contract that clearly outlines who owns the rights to the work. This will prevent your business from having to pay another fee to gain the full rights to the material in the future.

Non-Disclosure Agreements

Keeping intellectual property a secret could prevent business productivity. Instead, request that employees, potential investors and third-party suppliers sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before you reveal your ideas. Unfortunately, some prospective investors may choose not to sign a non-disclosure agreement, as they may believe it could restrict future investments. If so, you can still discuss the idea, but do not reveal every little detail regarding your idea. Try to outline your business idea while protecting the fundamentals of your IP.

Tight Security Controls

External sources can often pose a significant threat to the loss or compromise of your IP. Protect your intellectual property from a system hack or cyberattack by implementing tight security controls across every computer system, such as a defensive firewall, security monitor and an intrusion detection system. You can also use data encryption to protect your trade secrets, so a hacker will be unable to access the files even if they managed to break into your database. We recommend consulting who can help you identify the best security solutions to protect your valuable data.

Don’t lose your intellectual property by failing to plan ahead. Protect your IP to secure your success in your industry, or your business could be over before it has even started.