For start-ups, investor pitches are an essential element in their growth trajectory. However, young businesses are incredibly wary of idea theft, and this makes them cautious about sharing information. Logically speaking, reputed investors won’t snatch your ideas and turn it into a billion-dollar business, it would damage their reputation. Nevertheless, idea theft is a legitimate concern, and it wouldn’t hurt to have extra layers of protection.
How can Ideas be Protected?
No comprehensive intellectual property law protects ideas. However, the expression of such an approach can be protected. For instance, if your imagination or creativity (in this case, your ideas) is represented artistically or graphically, it can be protected by copyright. The same goes for writing a story, or even writing original computer codes. Similarly, if your business idea revolves around an innovative product, you can file for a patent. And, if you think your business name is unique, you can seek a trademark registration. Therefore, business ideas can be dissected into several parts and protected under different intellectual property laws.
Get a Copyright for what you can
As mentioned earlier, if your start-up revolves around technology, the chances are that you would do a lot of your own coding by hiring developers – ensure that they assign their rights to the company. Usually, copyright protection begins the moment the work is created – so, make sure you have evidence of authorship; you’ll need it as evidence while securing a registration.
Bear in mind that in case you’re using open source tools like Wiz, Squarespace or WordPress, you would not be able to seek protection of the same. Such devices are available to you because you have paid a creative license, but the copyright might still belong to the actual creator of the theme.
Patent your Innovation
The primary reason you spend time and resources to create an innovative product is to make money. So, patents become essential if you want to exploit your product financially, and stop competitors from reverse engineering and duplicating your work. Know that in several parts of the world software programs don’t qualify for patents, unless you have created a new process or method. Possibly, a part of a software program can is eligible for licenses. You can speak to a patent attorney to help you patent in India and figure it out.
Branding Assets can be Trademarked
Your start-up’s name, logo, tagline, brand sounds, and even color combinations can be trademarked. In today’s market, successful start-ups always have their brand names and logos duplicated and copied by others – Such duplication will qualify as infringement if your brand assets have a trademark registration. Even without a trademark registration, you can still build a case of infringement if you can prove prior / first use. For small start-ups, trademarking can take a backseat when compared to other intellectual property protection. However, as your brand grows, it a great idea to apply for trademarks.
Use NDAs when IP Protection isn’t Possible
It’s not always possible to dissect your business ideas and protect it via IP registration. Alternatively, Non-Disclosure Agreements can be used, ensuring that people, such as potential investors, employees or contractors, don’t share your ideas or benefit from them. NDAs are legal contracts and bind the information shared between people, keeping business ideas confidential.