Keep Your Startup Idea Your Own: How to Protect Intellectual Property

Keep Your Startup Idea Your Own: How to Protect Intellectual Property

Creating things has always been an essential part of our lives as human beings. The ability to create has allowed us to reshape our world and innovate with new ideas. The juncture of the two gave rise to intellectual property, and we are going to explain what this means in detail as well as how you can protect your intellectual property. 

What is intellectual property?


How do I protect my startup idea, you may ask. Intellectual property gives you the control and ownership of any type of ideas or knowledge that you have. Intellectual property protection has always been important in all kinds of industries and professions. It allows you to get rewarded for your ideas without the fear of others trying to make use of your concept for profit without your permission.


Types of intellectual property

There are several types of intellectual property:

  • Patents are used for inventions
  • Trademarks are used for brand identity
  • Copyrights are used for any ideas that are expressed

In some cases, intellectual property does not need to be registered. It will become intellectual property as soon as there is a record of its creation. This does not mean that a proper registration process is not recommended, but some intellectual property can be proven as yours in other ways.

How to protect intellectual property?

Your intellectual property is a very valuable asset that can be used for profit, meaning you need to protect it and ensure that it is legally seen as yours. Don’t forget that unprotected intellectual property can easily be stolen and used for profit without permission. It happens everywhere in the world all the time and would be careless to think it couldn’t happen to you.

In contrast, a person trying to profit from intellectual property that is not theirs without permission could face serious legal issues. Protecting your intellectual property helps create a sense of order, and it encourages people to create new things.

Trademarks, Copyrights and Patents

How to protect intellectual property for startups: Trademarks, Copyright, Patents

We mentioned these types of intellectual property before. Still, it is important to go into detail about the main differences among them to give you a better idea of their differences. 

What is copyright?

Copyrighting is the process of registering any original work you have created. You need to decide how your work is published and how the public is allowed to use it. This is crucial if you want to be able to publish your work without fear that someone else will claim it as their own or use it for profit without your permission. 

What is a trademark?

Trademarks are words, phrases, and even symbols that can distinguish a specific brand or individual. For example, the words ‘Let’s get ready to rumble’ are trademarked to the boxing announcer Mike Buffer. Anyone who wants to use that sequence of words needs to ask permission from this individual. 

What is a patent?

Patents are mainly used when something is invented or improved drastically. The process of protecting inventions is the only way for people to feel confident in releasing them to the public. Once an invention is patented, there will be legal repercussions for the use of that patent without permission.

Non-Disclosure Agreement To Preserve Confidentiality

There are some cases when an idea may not be registered or patented, but there is a need to get third parties involved in the process of bringing that idea to life. The use of a non-disclosure agreement is essential to ensure that those who are hired to work on this idea are going to maintain confidentiality. 

Many ideas require a large number of people working on them before they can become actual products. Many companies and individuals are faced with this issue, and they need to make decisions that can risk the disclosure of their ideas.

For example, if you create an app idea that is only a concept and needs to be brought to life, while hiring app developers make sure they are willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement before they can be given details on the project. That way, they can’t tell any outsiders or competitors about the idea, so you will avoid valuable information leakage and additional headaches.

Non-disclosure agreement to protect your app ideas

Source: Dribble - Apiko Software

An NDA needs to be elaborated in a way that would give it validity in a court, so you should consult with a lawyer if you have any doubts about how an NDA should be formulated.

A non-disclosure agreement is a final barrier that you create between your invention and any third parties that learn about it before it is registered and goes public.

Common Problems Startups Face With Intellectual Property

Startups can have a lot of setbacks due to trademark issues. For example, they may delay a project or avoid hiring external help due to fear of having their idea stolen. It is very common for issues like these to crop up when there is no solid proposal for their invention or idea, so they try to keep it under wraps until they can finally send it out for registration.

One of the main concerns is confidentiality, and the use of non-disclosure agreements is essential to guarantee the best outcome. Even with such practices, it’s always a risk to involve third parties and let them know about any specific idea. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to start the trademarking process as early as possible to avoid this issue.

When you have a project that requires external help, and you have yet to get your idea registered, you will be taking risks, and that is always a challenging time for any startup that has any ideas that may seem optimal.

Why is Intellectual Property important?

There are many people who are very creative, and they can come up with amazing ideas that can change the way a certain product is used, or they can create artistic expressions that need to be registered and claimed as their own. 

Protection of intellectual property rights is an essential part of any process of registering a creation. The longer time you spend dealing with this, the easier it is for someone else to claim the idea or creation as their own.

If you are still wondering why protecting intellectual property is important, you may want to remember that there are many cases when someone has invented something of value. They have lost the rights to it because someone else found out about their creation and registered it as if it were their own. 

Intellectual Property as a Business Asset

How to protect Intellectual Property: Tips for Startups and Small Businesses

Source: Digiscribe 

It’s important to consider that intellectual property can be a very valuable business asset, and this makes it essential to register your IP as soon as you can. Always keep this in mind when you have any kind of idea that you consider to be too valuable to share without the risk of it being stolen. 

Perhaps this is a good way to determine the need for IP registration. If you have anything in mind that you think is original and fresh, you are always going to take risks with that idea if you don’t get it officially registered.

Many business ventures end up finding themselves in serious and long legal battles because they failed to take proper actions to protect their creative assets.

What are the consequences of Intellectual Property rights violations?

There are many people who try to make use of material that is not of their property, and they can face serious legal issues as a result. It’s crucial always to consider the fact that any content that is not our own could be registered. 

That can be something as simple as using an image online that is trademarked or registered by someone else. It could also be to sell a product without permission or to make use of a registered business name, a song, or recreate a painting for commercial purposes. 

What does Intellectual Property Violation mean?

When you decide to make use of the intellectual property without permission, you may end up being sued. The type of lawsuit and the severity of the violation will depend on several factors. The most important thing to know is that you should never make use of any material that is not your own without the permission of the creator or the author.

Intellectual property infringement is not something that should ever be taken lightly. The legal consequences can be very serious, and this could lead to a case that drags on for months and even years. The best thing to do is for people to save themselves the legal battles and always be careful with how they handle the intellectual property of others.

Some cases with intellectual property violations can end up being settled outside of a courtroom, while others can become huge cases that can be mentally and economically draining for all parties involved.

Registering Intellectual Property in your area

Some inventions and ideas can be registered locally, while others require worldwide registration to avoid any issues with someone stealing your creations in other countries or regions.

If you feel that you don’t have enough information on how to register in your area, we suggest that you visit the local patent office in your location. Some registrations of intellectual property, such as books, can be done digitally, and the same goes for other ideas. 

Always consult with a lawyer that specializes in this process if you have an idea that you consider too valuable to disclose without proper backup. Don’t forget that all it takes is for someone to get their hands on your idea, and they could end up stealing it and passing it off as their own if you haven’t taken proper measures.

Never trust that everyone will be honest

It’s always essential to remember that some people are not going to be honest when they find the opportunity to profit. It is the kind of situation that can make people greedy, and many individuals or even companies would be willing to pretend they came up with an idea if you couldn’t prove that it was you who had come up with it.

There have been many intellectual property battles worldwide because two or more parties both claimed to have been involved in the creation of something that turned into a lucrative idea. This is the main reason why we recommend that you take the time to look into the registration process as quickly as you can, even during concept development

Final thoughts

People must remember to protect their creations to avoid plagiarism, and others profiting from their ideas. We hope that the guide helped learn everything you need when it comes to the essentials of understanding intellectual property, its types, and its importance.