Five Aspects of the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights that All Startups Should be Familiar With
What startups should know about the protection of intellectual property rights and what founders of startups should watch out for.
- Make sure the intellectual property rights of third parties are not violated. When registering a trademark, design, patent or company name, it is crucial to check and pre-verify that no third persons’ right will be violated. It is important for every startup to assess the risks associated with potential legal disputes over the exclusive rights of others with regard to intellectual property rights. For example, when a trademark is being created, databases should be checked to ensure that there are no registered or similar trademarks, titles of legal entities, etc. in a particular country where trademark protection is active. A detailed search can reduce the risk of potential disputes.
- Watch out for the registration formalities regarding the acquisition of intellectual property protection. Intellectual property of a company consists not only of trademarks but also of designs, patents, titles of legal persons, trade secrets, know-how, and an author’s work, such as computer programmes, databases and other objects. In other words, intellectual property is everything that may be created by human beings. Unlike the protection of copyright works that occurs after the creation of a given work, some intellectual property objects such as trademarks, patents, designs, etc. obtains legal protection only from the moment when the application for the registration of this object is filed.
- Transfer of intellectual property rights to a startup. In order to use and dispose of intellectual property objects and the exclusive property rights arising from them, it is necessary to agree that all objects of intellectual property and all property rights arising from the founders’ and other persons who have contributed to the development or creative process of the startup are transferred to the startup company.
- Protection of intellectual property in relations to third parties. Legal protection granted to intellectual property objects is also a basis to receive some financial benefits from them. Holders of exclusive intellectual property rights, such as trademarks, patents, designs, and copyright works, have the right to enter into licensing agreements with other individuals and grant them use of their intellectual property in exchange for remuneration. In this way, the startup could not only receive additional income but also increase the awareness and value of both its activity and its intellectual property.
- Protection of the commercial secrets and other valuable information of a startup. Every business organisation has and uses certain information that is very specific and valuable to their activities. Various commercial secrets, know-how or other confidential information are particularly important for startups, whose activities are often based on new, unknown, innovative ideas and various processes. It is therefore very important to ensure the legal protection of such information while informing parties involved in the startup business of the obligation to protect such information. This obligation might (and actually should) continue after an employment contract has been terminated. Each startup company should compile a list of commercial secrets, listing valuable and sensitive information, while informing employees of their obligation to protect it.