Protecting your brand from all legal perils is something that every entrepreneur wants to do. There is a saying in business that a CEO’s job is 50% marketing, and 50% everything else. Naturally, you’re doing everything you can to familiarize yourself with the trademark protection of your business, in addition to product development, product promotion, and fundraising duties.
Intellectual Property Law
So when do you hire a tech startup lawyer?
Early on… By protecting the unique elements and creations of your business, early on, you build a strong legally protected brand strategy. Furthermore, priority dates play a major role when navigating intellectual property law. Copyright, trademark, trade secrets, and patents are all based on priority. In other words, first come, first serve.
Intellectual property law is an umbrella term for copyright, trademarks, trade secrets, and patents. Besides priority dates, disclosure purposes are another reason to start your intellectual property strategy early on.
To successfully develop a startup, you must disclose confidential information to developers, marketing firms, various vendors, investors, and potential cofounders. The question of how to disclose confidential info without jeopardizing sensitive information will arise.
While one answer might be NDA’s Nondisclosure agreements (also called “Confidentiality agreements”), not all NDAs are created equal and NDAs do not give you unfettered permission to disclose confidential information. Boilerplate NDAs will not suffice in protecting your confidential information and trade secrets from being freely used by a competitor.
There can be significant risks when using a boilerplate NDA and the scope of protected information you want to be outlined may vary depending on your intellectual property strategy. The video by eForms on Non-Disclosure Agreements explains the difference between unilateral and bilateral confidentiality agreements. In a unilateral NDA, only one party will be disclosing the confidential information to the other party, therefore the recipient of the shared information will be the one bound to the terms agreement. In a bilateral NDA, each party discloses confidential information to one another. Therefore, both parties will be bound to the agreement and required not to share each other’s confidential information. Is a unilateral or bilateral confidential agreement the best fit your business needs? And what will be the time frame for your NDA? These are important questions to consider.
This is why consultation with an intellectual property lawyer early on to get a solid draft of an NDA, scale back risks, and consult on what intellectual property can be protected under an NDA is one of the best investments you can make when starting your business. An intellectual property expert can show you how to navigate NDAs and disclose confidential information on a need-to-know basis.
Hire A Startup Lawyer Today
When navigating intellectual property, priority dates are crucial. The first person to market, file, and get approved matters. In addition, boilerplate non-disclosure agreements will not help you in avoiding the perils of your confidential information and trade secrets ending in your competitor’s hands.
These are just some of the reasons to protect your intellectual property at an early stage of your startup. Because these issues can prevent a business from scaling it’s important to have foundational knowledge about trademarks and/ or consult with an experienced branding and trademark attorney to maximize your legal brand-protection strategies.
Tech startups, small business owners, and entrepreneurs evaluating when to hire a startup lawyer should begin today by consulting with a high-level intellectual property, trademark, trade secret, and patent expert David N. Sharifi, consulting startups in Los Angeles, California, and nationwide on intellectual property protection and market strategy since 2007.