In a previous post I discussed the legal protection of confidential business ideas and how to think about intellectual property protection for startups at the idea stage. Strategic development and protection of intellectual property protection is a means to an end, and that end is a protectable competitive barrier strategy. Protecting your turf in business and in life is almost instinctual, and in business, especially for technology-based startups. Strategic product differentiation and competitive marketing are complex considerations for any business. Because successful products have competition in the market, the strength of the competitive barrier strategy, consisting in part valuable intellectual property, can prove critical to sustainability and growth.
COMPETITIVE BARRIER STRATEGY
Protection of confidential information, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, patents and other proprietary assets of a company is part of a venture’s overall competitive barrier strategy. A startup’s competitive barrier strategy will shift depending on a multitude of legal, business and marketing considerations that are product, company, and industry-specific. The competitive barrier strategy may also shift depending on the company’s stage of development, short and long-term marketing initiatives, and competitive position in the market. The competitive barrier strategy of a tech startup at the idea phase, with a business plan, website, and in development of mobile application software, or user-interface design, for example, is considerably different than the competitive barrier and intellectual property protection and enforcement strategy of an established jewelry manufacture past its 100th year on the market.
LEGAL PROTECTION OF CONFIDENTIAL IDEAS: STARTUPS
One of the best practices for an effective competitive barrier strategy and an intellectual property protection plan for tech startups is to operate on a sliding scale, factoring in considerations of the company’s unique selling propositions, the current competitive environment, the company’s stage of development and intellectual property laws most applicable to the venture.
While there is no single strategy that fits every startup or small business, one of the first steps for any effective competitive barrier strategy planning and execution is to understand exactly what type of intellectual property the company has, and desires to acquire or create in the near future. Then, with the consultation of an experienced intellectual property attorney, the startup may consider:
- Executing legal contracts to protect the company’s products, ideas and business model;
- Filing of a copyright, trademark and patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office or the Library of Congress;
- Conduct other due diligence to protect the company’s exclusive rights.
With the assistance of a business and digital publishing attorney experienced in technology startups, consultation of legal principles in intellectual property law and what is and is not protected under various copyright, trademark, trade secret, and patent law, entrepreneurs, producers and inventors can more strategically navigate the innovation life cycle and share their creations with partners, and potential partners, through strategic disclosures and protections.
Author: David N. Sharifi, Esq. is a Los Angeles based intellectual property attorney and technology startup consultant with focuses in entertainment law, emerging technologies, trademark protection, and “the internet of things”. David was recognized as one of the Top 30 Most Influential Attorneys in Digital Media and E-Commerce Law by the Los Angeles Business Journal in 2014. Office: Ph: 310-751-0181; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: The content above is a discussion of legal issues and general information; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be used as such without seeking professional legal counsel. Reading the content above does not create an attorney-client relationship. All trademarks are the property of L.A. Tech & Media Law Firm or their respective owners. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.