If you’re working with original ideas, software or systems you have designed, the value of your business rests in those ideas: they are the primary assets you need to protect, which can be a problem because in order to attract finance and garner customers, you have to show off what you do and how you do it. Here are a few tips to make sure you can show your offering in the best possible light, without exposing it to people who might use your innovations for their own profit.
You’re going to have to show your product to people so plan for this ahead of time: what are the different sorts of people you will have to show your product to, and what level of access do they need? Come up with tiered plans of access for different audiences, deciding who needs to see the details of your process and who you can simply demonstrate the effects for: likely, investors will need to see behind the curtain of your product to make an informed decision, whereas customers only need to know you can fulfil what you promise.
Talk To a Lawyer
If the worst happens, and you need to defend your intellectual property in court, you will need to demonstrate that you have taken active steps to safeguard it in the past. Talking to a lawyer early can help you get the framework in place to ensure you are doing what you need to every day in small steps, rather than a large, costly lawsuit when something goes wrong.
One of the things a lawyer can help you do is draft Non-Disclosure Agreements for when you need to show off your intellectual property. These are some of the most important business contracts you can have as they protect the foundation of your business, your ability to provide a unique service.
Never use an ‘off the shelf’ agreement: there is no such thing as ‘standard’ with intellectual property. Make sure you discuss a range of options with your lawyer so you have agreements ready for all the situations you might encounter: attracting investors, employing freelancers, even showing off your products for reviews in the trade press.
If you follow these steps – especially in letting yourself be guided by an expert, you should be able to keep your assets safe.