Tag Archives: confidentiality

startup intellectual property

Intellectual Property Business Advice For Startups

startup intellectual propertyBefore considering a budget for services such as Outsourcing, Trademark or Patents even, I’d like to give you some pointers based on my experience of advising startups of all types over the last 15 years.

Businesses tend to change radically in the early years so that a few years after starting up, many look nothing like their initial manifestation.

Sometimes this can be because as they get market feedback on their concepts their ideas develop and they pivot. Or it may be that new businesses don’t know what it is exactly that they do, and who they do it for. Even professionals, like lawyers and web designers, who you would think know pretty clearly what they do, struggle with this.

Startups, therefore, take time to find their feet.

For this reason, I would counsel against spending too much money on anything, be it design, legal fees, or otherwise. As the business gradually achieves clarity about the demand for its goods and services, and figures out which services will generate revenue, and responds to the market, its offering and niche will change.

 

Early phase legal work

Early phase legal work can therefore often be of temporary benefit only.

Yet what happens in practice when a start up chooses lawyers is that a price is set for the various documents or services the lawyer considers the business needs. This might include a trade mark, terms of business, a website development agreement, documentation for the website, and anything else that is particularly appropriate for a given type of business.

The value a good lawyer can offer to startups goes far beyond the provision of documentation or a particular legal service.

It may be that you could save by using templates and do your own drafting to implement the necessary documents for your business.

One problem is how to get access to best practice intellectual property advice so as to start up your business and projects independently without need to consult lawyers about every decision you need to make as you pivot and change direction.

In fact, few businesses can afford to consult lawyers on the intellectual property issues that arise in the very early stages of their projects, such as when they’re choosing names or even when they’re commissioning websites. Either they don’t realise that so many of their actions have far reaching intellectual property implications, or it’s not feasible to incur legal fees when the project is in its infancy.

The mistake with IP is in assuming you can leave it to one side till later – such as once you have something to protect.  You need to know how to make good choices, what checks to make, and which provisions to include in legal agreements you should use early on.

Over the years Azrights has realised that this requires a different approach to that of consulting lawyers in the traditional lawyer/client one to one advisory service approach.

So, we’ve created a way to deliver early support to businesses so they may protect their IP using a PROCESS BASED system which we’ve developed. This is known as Legally Branded Academy 2.0 (LBA 2.0).

This enables people, even those with no pre-existing knowledge of intellectual property, to use the system to protect their IP. You learn what to do at the point in time when you need to learn it. It’s only when a key action is about to be undertaken in a project that there is a need to apply a given process.  You access and apply processes when you need them. There are different processes depending on the actions the business is about to take.

So, for example, if you have an innovation you want to patent, that’s when you would look at the processes for patents and understand what to do before approaching a lawyer for help. Or if you’re about to pick a name and domain name, that’s when you watch the videos on names and learn the numerous issues to be aware of.  Names are a much misunderstood topic, even by highly successful business leaders. There are many myths and misinformation about naming.

Indeed the need to choose a name so early on in projects leads to many mistakes by business owners, sometimes with devastating consequences for the business. This is just one example of how not having best practice advice, and information at your fingertips when you need it, can result in poor intellectual property outcomes for the business.

Intellectual property has a broad meaning. It includes the knowledge and skills that are to be deployed in the business or project, or which will be turned into a business. It is an umbrella term that includes:

  • patents,
  • trade marks,
  • designs,
  • copyright and
  • trade secrets/confidentiality.

Registration of rights, which people traditionally associate with intellectual property, comes later and often people will consult a lawyer at that time. However, by then it may already be too late to rectify the impact of some of the early decisions and choices they’ve made.

The best way I can help you is via a 6 week group coaching program that gives you access to LBA 2.0 and 6 Zoom meetings when I will explain how to use the LBA 2.0 system in your business as part of your processes, and you will have an opportunity to ask me questions. This is the lowest cost way we’ve been able to find for supporting startups. Thereafter you may buy consultation or different services such as trade mark registration. The system gives you a number of the templates you would need to use and these templates are made very easy to tailor. So, it’s only if the other party won’t sign the document that you’d need to consider consulting a lawyer for advice.

This new process-based approach to IP protection is THE way to protect your IP on an ongoing basis as your business grows and develops.

Here is a link to the Azrights International Ltd site which is not regulated by the solicitors regulation authority, and offers the course combined with coaching. You can put your name on the waiting list if the course is currently closed. It reopens every couple of months and you will get a discount by registering your interest and will be the first to find out when the next course starts.

The first step is to buy a licence for Legally Branded 2.0 and get some coaching. Then order more licences for your team and arrange consultancy services if required down the line.

Being in business myself means I understand the emotional, financial, and creative investment clients make in their own future. With my insight into legal risk, I am well placed to offer you this different approach to managing your legal risks and budget.

In conclusion, the traditional approach to organising your legal work might not result in the best deal for you. What we are all about at Azrights is providing cost effective and appropriate legal solutions to help you to grow your business on solid foundations.

podcast_shireen_smith

Legally Branded Podcast | I Have an Idea for an App, How to Protect it?

podcast_shireen_smithWhat’s the best way to protect an idea? How do you make sure that your app idea is secure when you’re trying to find the right developer to create it? In this episode, we talk about all the ways you can protect your idea in the early stages of development.

Click to Listen to Legally Branded podcast.

Topics discussed:

    • What you can do to protect your idea during the initial stage of development.
    • Things to remember when choosing the right developer.
    • The importance of having an agreement with the developers that protects you.
  • Ways you can protect your app after it’s developed.

Key Takeaways:

    • Confidentiality is the only way to protect a mere idea. It’s easy to get excited about a new idea and want to share it with others. Keep the idea for your app confidential when discussing it with people and developers.
    • When interviewing a number of developers to find the best one to work on your project, you should have a different idea to discuss with them so you won’t be hampered with needing a non-disclosure agreement to protect your main idea.
  • It’s up to you to make sure that the agreement with the developer protects you. If there is no agreement between you and the developer then the law automatically gives the developer the copyright in the app because they created it.


Action Steps:

    • Develop the habit of being selective about who you reveal your ideas to. Do not discuss your idea with developers right away.
    • Do thorough research on the developers you’re interviewing and make sure you read through their terms of business and legal agreements. Key things to look out for include: Their past experience, client references and testimonials, and how they charge.
  • Make sure that you secure copyright from the developer in writing before you commit to engaging in their services. Otherwise you will not own the copyright in the app.

Shireen said:

“Confidentiality is the only way to protect a mere idea at this stage. If you have an idea for an app, chances are the first thing you’ll want to do is to find someone to develop it for you. I’d advise against discussing the idea with any developers though.”

“Every idea will involve different intellectual property considerations. Some will highlight design protection, you know others may involve a patent protection and yet others will involve copyright. All concepts provide an opportunity to develop a brand.”

Thank you for listening!

Asking Google isn’t enough when it comes to protecting your apps and ideas. Sign up for my Legally Branded Academy Course to receive all the guidance you need to protect your intellectual property.

If you liked this podcast or have enjoyed any of the previous episodes, please consider giving me a review. Let me know what you think about today’s episode and feel free to ask me questions. You can reach me on social media via the links below.

Links to my books and online courses:

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How to stay in control and avoid giving too much away during the pitch process

The Pitch Process – How Much Should You Reveal?

How to stay in control and avoid giving too much away during the pitch process

It can be difficult to know how much to reveal about your business during the pitch process. If you’re pitching in a public forum, should you risk giving your original ideas away? Is the exposure and possible investment funding worth the risks?

During the pitch process you are necessarily disclosing information about your business plans in order to impress a potential investor or client. The need to find the right balance between disclosure and secrecy is crucial for the protection of your intellectual property.

Seeking funding

In situations where a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) can be used, that might be a solution to the problem. However, in practice it’s unlikely that potential investors would be willing to sign NDAs. It’s more to your advantage that they hear what you have to say than it is to theirs to listen to you.

Statistically there are a lot more people looking for investment than there are investors. Moreover, while non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) protect you don’t take too much comfort from the mere signing of a confidentiality agreement.

Beware of others stealing your best ideas

If you have an idea which the other party could implement better than you – such as the situation that arose for the Winklevoss twins who shared their concept for Facebook with Mark Zuckerburg – then avoid going to them for investment if you have a potentially lucrative idea. Or if it is essential that you communicate the information to a third party without the benefit of an NDA in order to progress it, could you perhaps reveal the broad idea without going into too much detail?.

Another aspect that is worth considering is conducting a background search about the potential investor or client. Checking their reputation might provide useful ways to assess how much information is safe to reveal to them.

It’s important to be mindful of your business before divulging information. With some ideas you simply shouldn’t discuss them without an NDA if loss of confidentiality would lose you the opportunity to patent the concept. What if you have an idea for a product-based concept – such as Mandy Haberman’s Anywayup Cup? You would lose the opportunity to patent if you don’t use an NDA. Mandy Haberman could not have succeeded had she not patented the cup before going to market.

Patent pending applications

In practice, it is a mistake to go to an investor without having first applied for patent protection. Once you have a patent pending, you could proceed to raise funds. The costs associated with such first filing are not as high as you might assume.

The initial filing gives you 12 months’ protection worldwide, and an inventor who has intellectual property like a patent application, will be more attractive to a potential investor.

Names need protecting

Another issue to consider is protecting the name you want to use for new products and services you’ll be discussing while pitching in public. If you haven’t protected the name you are at risk. This is because names are not protected by copyright and a member of the audience could easily steal the idea, register the name as a trade mark and gain the benefit of all the publicity you generate.

Do take advice on names as there are many pitfalls for the unwary. If the name you are using is not legally effective, and suitable for your business, you might waste your resources in applying to register trade marks.

In conclusion, any ideas or names you have for a new business concept or product that you might want to divulge during a pitch are worth discussing with an IP lawyer before divulging them to others. Our IP Audit offering is the ideal way to access such advice. It includes a search, templates, and videos too.to help you protect the future value of your ideas, products and services.

Shireen will be discussing this topic on the panel at the 4th Drum Brief Encounters Conference on 20th of October. It’s at the Congress Centre in London. You can book at http://briefencountersthedrum.com./.

How to stay in control and avoid giving too much away during the pitch process

BBC v HarperCollins – The Stig to be Unmasked?

The IPKAT reported recently that the BBC is preparing to take the publishing company HarperCollins to court over a book that reveals the identity of the Stig from Top Gear. The Stig never removes his helmet on the show, concealing his identity. The identity of the Stig’s character has been kept a secret for the past eight years, since 2003. Confidentiality agreements were signed to stop those involved leaking this secret to the public and ruin the air of mystery that surrounds the character of the Stig. Revealing who the Stig was could spoil the viewer’s enjoyment of the BBC2 program. Only Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May and a few of the show’s presenters are said to know who the Stig is.

HarperCollins has expressed its disappointment that the BBC has “chosen to spend licence fee payers’ money to suppress this book” and says it will vigorously defend the perfectly legitimate right of this individual to tell his story“. In a blog post on the Top Gear website by Andy Wilman, he argues against this, saying the corporation “has the right to spend money on protecting the intellectual property it created, because the truth is that all that stuff – the Stig, the Tardis, the Blue Peter dog – does belong to the licence payer, and not to some opportunists who think they can come along and take a slice when they feel like it”.

Before now there has been a fair amount of speculation over who the Stig really was, and several newspapers conjectured recently that his identity might be the former Formula Three driver Ben Collins. This came about after he decided to publish an autobiography about his life. However, the BBC still claims that the identity of the Stig remains a secret. The first Stig left the show after his identity had been revealed as the Formula One driver Perry Macarthy. Since then there have been numerous different racing drivers speculated as being the Stig and it has been claimed that the character is played by four different drivers. However, aside from these guesses, the true identity of the Stig remains unknown, and the BBC feel it is necessary to protect their harmless secret.

A BBC spokesman stated “This situation has come about as a result of an attempt by an external party to profit from unauthorised use of the Top Gear brand, one of the BBC’s biggest and most watched shows in the UK and around the world. As a result, it is important the BBC does all it can to uphold confidentiality clauses that have been agreed to in relation to the show.” By fighting against the publication of a book revealing the Stig’s identity the BBC is trying to protect the brand they have created which rests in part on the mystery surrounding the character of the Stig.