Monday, June 13, 2011

Planning For Success: IP Now!

The millions of dollars and man-years of effort required to pursue a patent infringement lawsuit usually makes taking such a course of action impracticable for entrepreneurs, start-ups, and even many mid-sized, flourishing companies.  But, some day, we all hope to succeed.  In some cases that means growing a company to a size where such tasks can be managed.  In other cases it means becoming an acquisition target for a corporate giant such as Microsoft (e.g., Skype). 
Should you succeed in growing your company in the future, the time is now to take steps to protect your intellectual property (IP).  For instance, you should review the measures you take to keep your trade secrets secret.  For trademarks and service marks that means applying for registration(s) as is appropriate and policing your competitors' use of marks that might be confused with yours.  For patentable ideas that means keeping the ideas secret for as long as is commercially feasible while, in parallel, filing appropriate patent applications.  You should also avoid making any offers for sale of products/service incorporating your idea(s) until you have at least a provisional applicaiton on file.  For copyrights as with other forms of IP, proper “marking” of related products, services, content, etc. with appropriate symbols (©, TM, SM, ®, “patent pending,” etc.) should be performed and periodically reviewed.  In this manner, when/if you reach the size where infringement suits become possible, today’s actions will enable appropriate legal actions – against your competitors.
Plus, part of the value in an acquisition for the acquiring company is usually the IP of the target.  Indeed, in many cases, big technology companies only want the target’s IP.  In any scenario, if the IP has not been properly protected, the company’s value can be greatly weakened.  Meaning, your buy out will trend lower than would otherwise be the case.
Because a blog article is too short to discuss all of the implications of this topic, we encourage you to seek a review of you IP related activities.  We at the Villhard Patent Group would be happy to discuss doing so at your convenience.  For more information see or call us at (512) 897-0399.

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