Take your company to infinite and beyond, but first start with the basics of Intellectual Property

May 31, 2017

If you plan to launch a new company or you are already starting one and you want to conquer the world with your great products, you should know the basic differences between IP rights, why you should act preventively and how to manage them in the long term so that you can prosper in competitive markets.

The most important IP rights are patents, designs, trademarks and copyright:

  1. Patents protect technical inventions that are new, non-obvious to experts in its technical field and industrially applicable; they give your company the exclusive right to produce or sell the invented process or product for 20 years.
  2. Industrial Designs are meant to protect the appearance of a product but not its technical aspects; depending on the jurisdiction you might be awarded with the monopoly for 25 years;
  3. Trademarks protect the name or image of a product or service that will be known to the general public and consumers; while they do not protect the product or service itself, they are great because if renewed properly are perpetual.
  4. Copyright protects a broad range of works that are deemed creative, such as textbooks or advertisements; it has a more loosen type of protection but lasts during the creator’s life + 70 years.

If your company focuses in creating products with new technical characteristics that are able to be patentable, you should start by filing a provisional patent application so that you can start to publicly disclose it to consumers and investors. One of the most important aspects of patent protection is that they should not be disclosed before being filed at an Intellectual Property Office because they will no longer be novel and thus not patentable. The patenting process is typical cumbersome but the economic rewards of having a monopoly over a product that only you can produce and sell are great.

If you are in an industry where appearance trumps technics characteristics, Industrial Designs are fundamental in setting up your company, as they will protect the color, lines, shapes or contours of your products. Industrial design rights allow you to exclusively produce and sell a product with singular aesthetic features.

Trademarks are important across all industries as they will help consumers and business partners to identify your company and the services and products that you provide. Ultimately, trademarks define how your company is known to the public, so it is very important to search for previously registered trademarks that might prevent your trademark from being registered or that mislead the public by being confusingly similar. Furthermore, you should start soon by understanding if your trademark is free to be registered or risk having to change the name of your product after production or marketing has already started.

Copyright protection is very broad but will help you to prevent competitors from using your creative works and will allow you to safely expand your marketing activities that create trademark/brand awareness and that in turn increase the value of your patented products or industrial design creations.

Fundamentally, IP rights provide monopolies and create safe zones for your company to operate in, greatly reducing the competitiveness pressure of having your ideas freely available to competitors.

As such, it is key to set up a long-term IP strategy that protects the currently lucrative products of your company and that in turn will let you invest in further R&D that will also be protected by IP with clear spillover effects and that will safely let your company to go to infinite and beyond.

 

 

 

 


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