If you are starting or acquiring a business or if you are in the middle of managing and running a business, you should be thinking about intellectual property. This post is for you!
Today’s quick win is brought to you by 10X Vets members Matt May (USMA ‘92) and Chris Galfano (USAFA ’93), Military Veterans and intellectual property (IP) attorneys with over 20 years of patent and trademark experience! When thinking about IP rights, patents often come to mind, but did you know IP rights also include trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets?
Here are five Intellectual Property (IP) tips for new and small-to-medium-sized businesses:
1. Secure IP rights for your business. Why?
Deterrence Deter other companies from unfairly profiting off your material and ideas.
Ownership Presumption of ownership - the material and ideas belong to you.
Protection Protect from costly, business-damaging IP infringement suits.
Competitive Advantage Gain a competitive advantage within your market.
Investors IP protection advertises stability and security to investors. Investors like to see that businesses have integrated IP rights into their business plans.
2. Value your IP.
IP is often not considered as much as products, business strategies, and marketing plans when acquiring or running a business. In reality, your business's IP is likely its most valuable intangible asset. IP equals a larger percentage of a company’s value the more successful the company is. For many companies on the S&P 500, IP equals up to 90 per cent of their value!
3. Protect your confidentiality.
To protect your ideas and materials, and to avoid breaches of confidentiality, make sure your employees, partners, and suppliers sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).
4. Assess the role of patents in your business.
Patents protect inventions or improvements to existing products or processes. If your business sells a physical product or software, you should think about securing patents for your business. Patents are the most expensive and time-consuming type of IP to obtain, but they provide the best scope of protection because they provide the holder with the exclusive right to make, use, or sell an invention. For this reason, a patent that covers an important feature of your business–something that drives consumer demand and/or distinguishes your product or service from that of your competitors–can be extremely valuable.
5. Search and register trademarks.
Trademarks build brand awareness and business goodwill. A trademark can be words, symbols, logos, slogans, or product packaging and design that identify the source of goods or services. Before you begin using a trademark or business name, conduct a thorough trademark search to see if your trademark or name is already in use. Use the USPTO’s free Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to conduct a search on your own. Clearing the name and brand early will reduce the likelihood of problems down the road. Registering a trademark can be relatively quick and inexpensive. As your company grows, it will become increasingly important to police infringing uses of your trademarks.
Be proactive. Make your IP strategy central to your business strategy and seek the advice of a qualified IP professional to ensure your IP strategy is tailored to your specific situation and goals.
Get to know Matt May (USMA ‘92)!
Matt May is an experienced patent attorney and shareholder with a demonstrated history of working in the intellectual property law practice industry. Matt is skilled in Patent Portfolio Analysis, Patent Law, Trademarks, Intellectual Property, and Patent Prosecution. Matt has strong business and management experience with 10+ years of patent attorney experience, 10+ years of engineering business experience, and 30 years of Army Reserve management and leadership experience. Matt recently retired from the US Army Reserves after serving 30 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Get to know Chris Galfano (USAFA ‘93)!
Chris Galfano is an experienced patent attorney and shareholder and focuses his practice on preparing and prosecuting patent applications. Chris also has experience in patent and trademark litigation matters, procuring design patents and providing counseling on patent infringement risks and strategies for reducing such risks, as well as preparing freedom-to-operate, non-infringement and invalidity opinions for utility and design patents. Chris is a retired Marine who served as a Naval Flight Officer.
Do you want to learn more about intellectual property?
Join the 10X Vets Acquisition Circle! It’s a place for Military Veterans who are transitioning into business ownership, buying and selling businesses, providing services in IP, M&A and more. Each month, members connect with one another to network and swap acquisition war stories, sharing valuable resources and lessons learned along the way. Schedule a call with our team if you’d like to learn more about the 10X Vets Acquisitions Circle. We’d love to chat and answer any questions you may have.