• Intellectual Property Protection
  • December 2, 2015 | Author: James H. Gulseth
  • Law Firm: JGPC Business & Corporate Law - Pleasanton Office
  • What Every Startup Founder Needs to Know About Intellectual Property Protection

    Most startup entrepreneurs aren’t the least bit concerned about intellectual property protection.

    That’s a big mistake that could cost them their entire business.

    They may not realize it, but every startup has at least one kind of intellectual property: their business plan! You may not think of your business plan as intellectual property but it certainly is.

    And if you don’t own your intellectual property it could be a big problem. No one is going to invest in your business unless you can prove that the intellectual property belongs to you or to your business entity.

    So even though it isn’t exciting, intellectual property protection is an area that startup founders need to get a quick education on.

    What is Intellectual Property Protection?

    You need to have appropriate intellectual property protection measures in place, particularly when you have people helping you.

    You may have someone come in to set up a website. You may have somebody working with you on your business plan. Under our system of copyright law the person who writes the code for the website or the document for the business plan owns the copyright. This is true whether they got paid for it or not.

    To avoid inadvertently giving away your startup’s intellectual property you need a written document with language, such as: “I hereby assign all my copyright rights to so-and-so.” If you don’t have those magic words in a written document signed by all parties it could cost you a piece of your business.

    Intellectual Property Protection Agreements

    Intellectual property protection agreements can come in several different forms. Depending on the details, it could called any of the following:

    • An “intellectual property protection agreement.”
    • An “intellectual property protection/non-disclosure agreement.”
    • An “independent contractor/employment agreement.”

    Under copyright law in our system the person who writes the code for the website or the document for the business plan owns the copyright. This is true whether they got paid for it or not, unless there’s a written document in it with the right “magic words” giving you the intellection property protection you need.

    Executive Summary: Intellectual Property Protection Overview

    That’s the overview of intellectual property. Let’s look at the main points:

    • Every startup business has intellectual property of some form.
    • Your business plan is a form of intellectual property
    • To protect your intellectual property you need to make sure that everyone working with your business signs an agreement.


    This article was originally published on JGPC.com.