Protecting yourself from idea thieves – a step-by-step guide

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Ideas are a more valuable currency than they have ever been, thanks to the information revolution. While there are many creators out there, there are those who seek to take the hard work of others for their own benefit.

This sort of thievery has been a big problem through history, but it is worse these days thanks to the increased accessibility of information through legal and illegal means (e.g. hacking).

Allen Hartman can’t say enough about taking every measure to protect your intellectual work through copyrights, trademarks, or patents.

Would you want to see a billion dollar company ripped away from you by a quick-witted shyster? Of course you wouldn’t.

Below, we’ll guide you through the steps of guarding your IP (intellectual property) – take good notes and don’t hesitate to act on them.

1) Trademarks, patents, and copyrights: what are they and what do I need?

Start by learning about the various forms of IP defense. There are many, but copyright, patents and trademarks are the three most common.

Getting a copyright protects creative products like music, a patent allows a person or corporate body to claim ownership of a product or process, and trademarks attribute slogans, phrases, and designs to a person or company.

You might only require one form or protection, or all three. By doing your homework, though, you’ll clear the air on what you’ll need to guard your life’s work.

2) Bring an intellectual property attorney on board

Knowing which protective mechanisms you’ll need is a good start, but getting the advice of IP lawyer will ensure you have not overlooked anything.

Their valuable advice will prevent the worst IP thieves from taking advantage of a legal backdoor to nab your idea right from under your nose.

3) Fill out forms

After learning about what you need to know, go over your business with a fine-toothed comb and figure out what needs to be guarded through a copyright, trademark, or patent.

Figure out what information you’ll need to look up and find out the answers. Once you have completed all required paperwork, head to your local office of the federal government and submit your application.

4) Make non-disclosure agreements a regular thing in your workplace

As your business grows, your big idea will inevitably get exposed to other people’s eyes. In fact, it is important to do this if you want your company to scale to a size that can make you millions or even billions of dollars.

Most people can be trusted, but some can’t. It isn’t always obvious who the bad guys/gals are, so defend yourself by making every new employee/contractor/partner sign a non-disclosure agreement.

It lays out legally-binding penalties to those who violate it, allowing a properly-written NDA to be an effective deterrent to those who might be tempted to jump ship with your idea.

5) File patents as soon as you possibly can

As soon as you come up with a minimally workable version of your product, patent it immediately.

America gives you 12 months after submitting your plans to change them. As a result, things don’t have to be perfect to the nth degree – just file it as soon as everything on the application makes sense.

In the year that follows, you can make cosmetic changes as you please, so stop dawdling and get on it!


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