As a business it is crucial to ensure that steps are taken to identify and protect the intellectual property of the business. Often start-up businesses find themselves in situations where they are unable to identify and project vital business assets.
What Intellectually Property is in a Business?
The intellectual property of a business is often those items that enable your business to gain a competitive and financial advantage within the marketplace. Intellectual Propertycovers inventions, designs, code, authorship (content) and trade secrets. Trade secrets are particular methods of carrying out activities, which are unique to your business and provide a specific competitive or financial advantage.
How you protect your intellectual property depends on what types of intellectual property you have. Many small businesses often conjure up an image of expensive lawyers and tedious applications when considering intellectual property. Below are some steps you can take to better understand and project your business intellectual property.
Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA)
Starting or running a business can involve designers, developers, consultants, writers, marketers, venture capitalists, registrations, competitions and a host more of 3 party interactions. If your business is providing a 3rd party with access to you trade secrets, you should consider an NDA agreement. You may be allowing a developer access to your server to program or getting a content writer to ghost write articles for you’re a website and you may need to provide access to sensitive material. Whatever the reason, a business should have an NDA in place.
A NDA is a legally enforceable agreement, which insures your information cannot be disclosed or passed on to third parties. The agreement creates a confidential relationship between the parties to the agreement. Any information not in the public domain is protected under the agreement. It should also me noted that many companies have their employees sign a NDA on commencement and termination of employment.
Assignment of IP Rights
Protecting information is one point, ensuring your business owns the rights to specific pieces of work, which form the business, are another matter. In a business such as technology, it is custom to see investors or buyers evaluate the business based on the intellectual property of the business. This could range from the source code of the application or design of a logo.
Intellectual property assignments are crucial documents to enact as a start-up business to ensure your business owns rights to their business assets. These agreements provide confidence to buyers and investors that the founders have legally transferred the IP to the company to run the business.
When Should I ConsiderIP Assignments?
IP assignments transfer the ownership rights of a specific piece of work from one person to another. Assignment of rights can be carried out on a variety of work, including source codes, content, web design, logo design etc. If you have any doubt when to enact an assignment of IP, it is best to be prudent and enact an IP assignment.
Assignments can include:
- Assignment of a domain name
- Assignment of trademark
- Assignment of copyright
- Assignment of rights in software
- Assignment of rights in website
- Assignment of rights in logo
- Assignment of All intellectual property
Each business should develop and actively enforce IP protection strategies. While the common intellectual property assignments such as copyright, trademarks and patents are usually those most talked about, trade secrets must be given its equal share at the table. As an entrepreneur and business owner, you should always operate on the side of caution and ensure your business executes NDA agreements and IP assignments on all external projects.