Friday, August 13, 2010

Intellectual Property--The Four Elements of Intellectual Property

Almost every entrepreneur has heard that it’s important to protect the idea and most have heard about patents. But in addition to patents there are other forms of protection that come under the name of Intellectual Property. They are

Trade Secrets--information about your product/service that is not publicly known
Trade Patents--protection based on legal means through the US patent office
Copyrights--set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of an original work
Trademarks-- a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services.

A robust intellectual property strategy for your business includes all of the above. Some recommend you start with trade secrets and only move to patents if necessary. Using copyrights and trademarks you can add additional layers of protection around your business.

For a software business many startups talk about their patents, but most angels know that patent protection is weak at best in the software world since there are many ways to work around a patent if someone wants to duplicate the idea. A better measure is to calculate the cost of duplicating the software including design, coding, build out, and most importantly data set build out.

Best regards,
Hall T.

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