10 things to consider when thinking about patenting your product or idea.

Intellectual Property or IP is defined as a: work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or a design, to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright, trademark, etc."

It can be expensive and time consuming to file a patent, so keep these valuable tips in mind.

Here's a list of 10 ways startups can get a leg up on protecting their intellectual property rights:Many Entrepreneurs often overlook the value of the IP created during their business careers, especially within Start Up businesses when they are in the war trenches trying to develop an MVP or generate cash flow.  Inc Magazine points out just as the largest tech companies in the world like Google, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and others protect their Intellectual Property rights, small business should seriously consider having plan to protect their assets, all of them.

  1. Patent what is important to others, not just you
  2. Make time to get smart on intellectual property. Educate yourself and team on the basics of trademarks, copyrights, patents, and trade secrets. Investing a day or two early on will save headaches later.
  3. Work with an attorney who specializes in intellectual property and ask for a fixed rate to file.
  4. Reduce costs by doing your own IP searches first. Start with a Google patent search at google.com/patents.
  5. Save money by working with a patent attorney from a different geography. Ivy-league lawyers in Wisconsin are just as good as Ivy-league lawyers in New York City.  The cost savings may be upwards of 50%, and sometimes more.
  6. Invest in well-written non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). Make sure your employment agreements, licenses, sales contracts and technology transfer agreements all protect your intellectual property too, right from the get-go.
  7. Patents aren't your only asset. Conduct an audit to identify all your registered and unregistered trademarks and copyrights.
  8. File as fast as you can. A patent application holds your place in line. You will have 12 months from that initial submission to expand upon your filing. And remember, US patents can take more than five years to issue.
  9. Investigate international patents if key competitors are outside the US.  A US patent will not protect you against competitors in Europe, never mind China.
  10. Think hard about the future.  From your vantage point, what does the future look like? Use this information to devise your patent strategy, and to figure out which of your work needs to be legally protected. From there, your patent applications should flow.
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