If you’re in the business of innovation, a start-up, research organization, a university, or have a focused R&D effort, you have probably spent time wrestling with the question of what intellectual property (IP), innovations, branding, or trade secrets to protect, how you go about protecting it, and when you should start the process for protection. This can be a particularly tricky situation for small businesses, and organizations with both limited budgets and limited human resources. If you ask the experts, the opinion seems to be universal
“…if you do not protect your intellectual property proactively and early, you might have to protect it defensively later.”
What you need to protect helps instruct if, how, and when, you might best go about protecting it. In an interview with Forbes, Attorney Ashley Brewer says “Protect early. Protect creatively. Protect carefully. As soon as you start taking steps to implement a business or product idea, such as incorporating, obtaining state or federal licenses, or securing production of a product, you should identify which aspects of your business and products are protectable by trademark, copyright, patent, or trade secret. Each of these types of intellectual property requires different procedures to protect them from unfair competition and copycats, which is why it is important to consult a professional.”
A key tool in the innovator’s toolbox is a solid NDA or set of NDA agreements. Not only do you need to protect your rights with regards to your innovations or ideas, you need to ensure proprietary information is only shared with those individuals or organizations you deem necessary to your success and growth.
“…be sure that any employees and independent contractors who will work with trade secrets sign strong non-disclosure and non-competition agreements…”
One of the best ways to insure your customers, partners, employees, and vendors don’t pass on things like IP or Trade Secrets is to “…be sure that any employees and independent contractors who will work with trade secrets sign strong non-disclosure and non-competition agreements, because there is no registration for trade secrets (such as recipes and non-patentable formulas). Trade Secrets are protected only as long as they remain secret.”
For more details on IP dos and don’ts, check out this informative Forbes interview.
For more information on AST’s Adaptive NDA solution and how it can help you protect your business, click here.