Change is synonymous with Startups.
Startup teams are constantly innovating, exchanging new ideas, conducting new experiments, and learning new lessons along the way.
What's really exciting about this is the potential for generating new Intellectual Property (IP) for the Startup each time you have a breakthrough.
Let's find out how.
Name of your Startup/Company:
After a lot of back and forth, trial and error, doubts and confusion, you finally arrive at that perfect name for your Startup or company. This name will be the first thing your customers will identify you with. You will spend the next several years building your brand and associating your Startup name with your culture, values, and your products/services.
Therefore, should this effort not be complimented equally with a subsequent trademark registration? Yes, it definitely deserves to be. We recommend that you file for a trademark registration of your Startup name immediately after you've established a company or a legal entity in the name of your Startup. This is not very expensive and offers you a whole lot of benefits for a fraction of the cost.
Here are the key benefits of registering a trademark for your Startup name:
- A Registration symbol ® next to your Startup name, for example, My-Startup-Name® showcases your professionalism and indicates your commitment to your business.
- The Registration symbol ® discourages other market players and competitors from using your Startup name or seemingly similar names to promote or sell their products. It also gives you the legal authority to pursue infringement cases against anyone who misuses or monetarily benefits from misusing your registered Startup name.
Your Startup or Company Logo:
If coming up with a Startup name was not easy, then coming up with a Logo for your Startup is an even more painstaking effort. Often, great thought goes into the design of the Logo and maximum effort is made to ensure that the Logo effectively conveys what your Company/Startup stands for. This Logo will go on to be the face of your brand, your products/services, and your identity as a Startup or a company.
Needless to say, we always recommend that Startups and new Companies go in for a trademark registration of their Logo simultaneously alongside the trademark registration of their Startup/Company name.
Your Innovative Idea(s) – Product/Service/Experiments
More often than not, your new product or service idea takes shape much before you name and register your Startup. You put in several months and person-hours to bring your offering onto the table to your customers. During this process, you may have inadvertently ended up knowing what works and what does not with respect to your product/service. With this knowledge, it would be prudent to protect the crystallised idea by filing a Patent Application(see here for a discussion on patent strategies for innovative companies) for your idea.
Filing a patent application gives you an immediate edge over your competitors. It gives you the right to claim a "Patent Pending" status on your product/service in all your marketing/advertising campaigns as well as the product/service itself.
Product development, or offering a new range of services, are both iterative processes. Every new development, each incremental improvement, or all the so-called "crazy ideas", within the Startup or company have the potential to be valuable IP in the form of a granted patent.
We actively encourage Startups not to dismiss any of the ideas as not valuable and consider filing a patent application for such ideas as often and as early as they can.
Name of your Products/Services (Branding):
Once you have your working product or service and invested resources to protect your IP sufficiently, the next step is social promotion, marketing, and advertising. For this, you might have spent a lot of time coming up with memorable product or service names or catchy slogans to go along with your branding strategies.
Your product names and your slogans can also be protected by filing trademark registrations for them. This is something that may be easily overlooked by Startups and we consistently advise Startups to be proactive in protecting their creative ideas on product names and slogans.
Your content – Blog Post, Marketing and Advertising materials, videos
To grow your business and to create your product or service awareness, you may be deeply involved in content marketing like writing blog posts and relying on creative print and digital advertising like making videos or digital ads.
You will be delighted to know that all new and original ads, design, videos, film, articles, and so forth are automatically protected under the Copyright Act. It is also advisable to take advantage of this benefit and explicit state in all your creative materials that you own the copyright to your content – both in print and online – as "Copyright © Year. My-Startup-Name".
However, if you believe that competitors or other interested individuals may steal, copy, and/or misuse your originally created content, we also regularly advise Startups to file for copyright protection and obtain a copyright certificate for all original content.
So, as you can see, with everything new and original that you create or come up with in the Startup or company you can also protect it sufficiently with Trademarks, Patents, and Copyrights. In doing so, you will have complete rights over your IP, ward off competitors/copycats, and be instantly identifiable by your customers.
"New Startup. New Ideas. New IP", is a good slogan to remember for all new Startups and companies. Wait, we should probably trademark this!
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.