When you come up with a good idea that can make you lots of money, it’s only natural that you want to protect it. While intellectual property, or IP, might seem intangible, Canadian IP law gives creators exclusive rights to profit from their creations. To use this to your advantage, you must prove you originated the concept, then you can protect this legal property using trademarks, patents and copyrights. When you’re just starting out, designating your IP with firm legal protections might not make sense. Luckily, you can protect your intellectual property in other ways in addition to filing it with the Canadian government.
Keep Details to a Minimum
When marketing to clients initially, you don’t need to go into a lot of detail concerning your intellectual property. Pitch your ideas by outlining all the key information without going into specifics, focusing instead on how your product or service can meet the needs of your clients or their customers. When you’re seeking funding or investors, you likely need to go into much more detail since potential partners share your financial risk and need to know the ins and outs of your ideas.
Create Non-Disclosure Agreements
Take the worry out of sharing your ideas with clients, workers and other business associates by asking participating individuals to sign a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA. While some investors or clients might not be willing to sign such an NDA, you can get around this by adding a confidentiality statement to your business plan or your pitch paperwork. While this doesn’t provide definite protection in some cases, it can add a layer of safety when dealing with ethical individuals.
Carefully Research Potential Partners
Make sure everyone who wants to do business with your company is on the up-and-up by performing background checks and checking their references. Things to look for include any disputes potential partners might have with previous business associates, online social media checks to confirm reputation and respectability, and online background checks that reveal any disreputable actions. With information so easy to suss out on the internet, researching potential partners should be a relatively quick and simple task that can save you a world of hurt in the long run.
Get a Provisional Patent
Patenting an idea you’ve not brought to market can be expensive, but you can cut costs by instead filing a provisional patent. A provisional patent protects your IP for a year while you work out all the details, but it gives you no option to extend it past this time frame. This makes it important to file for a regular patent as soon as it’s financially reasonable for your company to do so.
Trademark Your Business
When you start a business around core intellectual property, you can tie your company trademark in with your idea or concept for an extra protective layer. This helps you establish when your business developed the idea, reducing the risk that someone can legally challenge your claim to your IP.
Keep Excellent Records
Keeping clear, concise records gives you a paper trail to follow should one of your associates attempt to use your IP without permission. This includes logging every conversation you have concerning your IP, whether you’re talking with potential partners, investors or workers.
While you might fear someone beating you to the punch by stealing your good idea, the chances of this happening remain small. Also, you can limit your reach by holding your IP too close to your chest, preventing potentially helpful clients and investors from adding their expertise to the mix. By protecting yourself in even a limited fashion, you free your business to seek feedback and create new opportunities.