When you launch your new business, there’s lots of stuff to think about. One of those things — and one that is easy to overlook — is how you will protect your business’s intellectual property. It’s best to get those strategies and systems in place from the beginning, and here are a few things to think about.
Put Founder Agreements in Writing
Many ideas for startups begin informally. Maybe you started chatting with a few friends about an exciting business idea you had, and they got excited about helping bring those ideas to life. That’s great. But as you put those cool ideas into a formalized business, it’s essential to make sure all the co-founders agree on their roles, their rights, and the responsibilities. . You all may think you’re on the same page, but putting your expectations in writing confirms that each of you has the same expectations and prevents (or at least minimizes) disagreements down the road.
Contributors Should Assign IP to the Business
In the early stages of creating a startup, those involved will spend a lot of time on innovation. New ideas, concepts, and prototypes, designs, photos, and other content will be shared as you define your company and its products or services. Who owns that content? Depending on the type of content, when it was created, and under what circumstances, it might be the individual creating it or it might be the company. To avoid fights over that ownership, it’s a good idea to establish clear written guidelines stating that the IP rights over these innovations—whether they come from founders, employees, or independent contractors—should be transferred to the company. That way, everyone is on the same page about innovating on behalf of the company, and you can reduce the likelihood of legal disputes over IP ownership in the future.
Plan For How You’ll Resolve Potential IP Disputes
As you plan for the success of your new business, the last thing you want to think about is a costly legal battle. However, it’s crucial that you explore your options for resolving disputes before they arise. You may, for example, want to include a mediation clause in your company’s agreements. That would require you to try in good faith to negotiate a settlement of any dispute before litigation expenses start accruing. For those cases that can’t be settled, litigation might be your best option. Planning for possible lawsuits includes preparing good contracts that define rights and responsibilities and developing processes for both securing your business’s IP rights and making sure you don’t infringe on someone else’s. Lawyers can help put those agreements and processes in place, so if that lawsuit arrives you’ll be as prepared as you can be.
Learn more about how to set your Minneapolis or St. Paul business up for success by calling Rubric Legal LLC today at (612) 465-0074.