Eureka! You have hit on an idea that you believe is a spectacular business idea.
Or you have joined the league of inventors with one breathtaking invention of your own. You can hardly wait to launch it and let everybody know what they have been missing.
Or maybe you have come up with a winning idea for a new business or product, or you simply have an idea you want to turn into a business.
Whatever the idea, unless you know how to hit the ground running with it, you’re wide open to copycats and thieves and fundamental mistakes.
Many otherwise sophisticated CEOs and corporate managers essentially leave a significant portion of value on the table by failing to develop and execute on a brand strategy directed to capturing and maximizing intangible assets, or intellectual property (IP) to be more precise.
Over the coming weeks I will be releasing 7 blogs to help you to understand how to avoid some of the costliest mistakes people tend to make with their big idea.
The key moments these mistakes happen is when you have a new idea to turn into a business or charity or product etc.
Another common time when you’re susceptible to making serious mistakes is when you’re rebranding an existing business or concept.
To make sure you’re on a strong footing when turning an idea you’re excited about into a business or charity or when rebranding, be sure to check out the blogs so you avoid the 7 mistakes.
The First Costly Mistake People Make When Branding their Big Idea or Rebranding Their Business
Is that they don’t start with Intellectual Property.
Thinking about Intellectual Property (IP) the instant you have a new idea or project is the best way to protect an idea. Why? Because ideas alone have no protection under the law.
The fact that you thought of something first, or that an idea is yours means nothing in the world. The minute you reveal your idea anyone may freely use it. Writing down your idea and giving it to someone to hold as proof that you had the idea first does nothing to protect the idea either. Nor does using Non-Disclosure Agreements indiscriminately help much.
It is surprisingly easy to overlook the importance of IP in the early stages when developing your ideas. The internet has changed the rules. The assets of a successful business tend to be intangibles like names, websites, designs, trade secrets and the like. Do bear this in mind when embarking on new projects or creating your brand.
One good reason to think about IP first is so you can understand how to protect the idea as you give it a commercial form, who to reveal it to, how much to reveal, when to be secretive, and when to freely spread your idea. You don’t want to be all paranoid about revealing the idea otherwise you wouldn’t get anywhere with it. On the other hand, you need a good commercial understanding of the world, business and IP, in order to know how much to reveal and when.
Intellectual Property is an umbrella term that refers to the 5 legal disciplines that protect and govern creations originating from the mind – that is intangible assets. These creations might take the form of inventions, designs, art, written materials such as blog posts, music, secret recipes, brand names, etc. These IP laws are known as patents, trademarks, copyrights, designs, and confidential information or trade secrets to use a common term that describes a type of confidential information.
How it works is that one or more of these laws protect a given subject matter. For example, music is protected by copyright. Names are protected by trademarks, and inventions are protected by patents. Some things are protected by more than one type of law. For example, logos are protected by copyright, designs, and trademarks.
You could end up wasting a lot of time and money unnecessarily, all because of some easily avoidable IP mistake.
An extreme example of how failure to understand IP can result in loss is the Karaoke machine. Mr. Daisuke Inoue, the inventor, earned nothing from the billion-dollar industry that the invention spawned. He never thought of patenting his invention until it was too late. Had he done so, it could have made him millions. Reflecting on his experience, one can’t help feeling that it’s unfair that it was the multinationals and not him who made massive financial gains from the invention.
However, the law is clear. As soon as you reveal your ideas, you lose the possibility of patenting if the idea was for an invention. In a world where opportunists are waiting to pounce on the latest new idea, you need to understand the role of IP in protecting the idea. As soon as ideas are in the public domain you can no longer patent them, and others are able to freely make use of them.
But it’s not just if you have an invention that you could lose out by not looking at IP first.
Turning an idea into a business or product and brand involves knowing how to make the idea spread, how to help it to stand out and be memorable.
How ambitious are you for your idea? How much would it matter to you if you made wrong IP decisions? IP is property just like the land is property. It’s the most valuable property your business or idea can be turned into if you get it right.
Whatever you do, don’t start by going to designers for “branding”, such as to get a logo or website. Designers won’t be able to help you with IP. That’s not their expertise. Most of them might know just a little bit more about IP than the general public, but not nearly enough to help you protect your ideas.