Intellectual property (IP) is your company’s biggest asset, it is the foundation of your business, and what investors will put their money on (except you of course). Therefore, you must ensure that all of the company’s IP does indeed belong to the company or that the company has an appropriate right to use it.
Here is a list of things to do on a regular basis:
- Assignment of IP Rights – Every employee and consultant of the company should transfer and assign to the company all of the IP they create for the company or in connection with the company. This action will ensure that in the future when the company will be worth a lot of money, no skeletons from the past will claim that they are entitled to royalties due to the use of IP.
- Patents – If the company’s IP is patentable, the company’s protection of it will be stronger if a patent is registered. This action will help to prevent others from using the company’s IP. On the other hand, rather than exposing the company’s IP to the public domain, sometimes it is better to keep it secret and thus to save the costs of patent registration. Patent registration costs increase in correlation with the number of countries in which you seek patent protection.
- Trademarks – In order to secure the company’s trademarks and prevent others from using them, it is recommended to register them in countries that are important for the company’s business. By doing this, you will be able to protect the company’s trademarks in the event that they are used by others in those countries.
- Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) – You must ensure that you disclose confidential information only to parties who have signed an NDA. The NDA should include a provision stating that the recipient of the information: (a) may not disclose confidential information to a third party without the prior written consent of the company, and (b) may use the confidential information solely for the purpose specified in the agreement.
- Be on Guard – Guarding against and tracking potential violations is always recommended. For example, pay attention to competing products or consult with an attorney and ask to check for violations of rights.
- Licenses – If you wish to incorporate the IP of others into the company’s products, the right way to do so is through a license agreement. In the event that your company is the one granting the license to others, it is important to clarify that the IP shall remain the exclusive property of the company and that the licensee can use it only for specific purposes that you have defined in advance.
Right here at the JumpStart website you can find a variety of customizable agreements for download, including NDAs.