At Suiter Swantz IP, we understand the unique intellectual property (IP) challenges faced by startups and small businesses. Startups are particularly sensitive to IP protection, or the lack thereof, as a significant amount of a startup’s business may be associated with a single good or service. An ineffective IP strategy may doom a company before it gets off the ground. Our practitioners are well versed in navigating the IP landscape in a manner that minimizes cost and maximizes value. At Suiter Swantz, our goal is to provide startups and small businesses with a strong, valuable and flexible IP footing.
In addition to over two decades of experience in tech hubs, such as Silicon Valley, we have a long and successful history of working with local startups. Our practitioners are active supporters of the local startup community, with many of our attorneys currently serving as mentors for local seed round accelerators NMOTION and STRAIGHTSHOT.
Intellectual Property law provides for the protection of a variety of intangible assets, allowing a business to limit the unauthorized use of their IP. These assets may include inventions, company names, logos, symbols, software code, writings, designs, music, recipes and similar intellectual works. Intellectual property protection encompasses the following categories: patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Startups and small businesses also often require the use of contractual agreements, such as non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and work-for-hire agreements to protect their IP.
The failure to secure IP rights related to your product, service or branding may negatively impact your ability to fend off copycat efforts by competitors. The inability to fend off copycat efforts may reduce or eliminate the possibility of funding. Our practitioners will help you efficiently and effectively secure enforceable IP rights, allowing you to minimize the risk of undesired use of your intellectual property.
Failing to understand the IP landscape may lead to inadvertent infringement of a competitor’s IP rights. This could lead to undesired legal proceedings and, worse, the forced abandonment of your product, service or brand. A startup is particularly sensitive to being exposed to litigation in technologies, such as software, which have experienced a high level of patenting activity over the last two decades. Our practitioners can help identify IP rights of others in an effort to reduce the likelihood of infringement on your part.
Budget Constraints and Timing
Startups adhering to the lean startup model are typically disadvantaged due to the lack of budgetary allowances available for IP protection. The financial constraints experience by most startups and small businesses are compounded by strict government-imposed timing requirements associated with some forms of IP, particularly patents. Due to recent changes in patent law, it is important that a patent application be filed before any public use, offer of sale, sale, publication, or other public disclosure of the given subject matter. Failure to do so may result in a dedication of the subject matter (i.e., the invention) to the public (and thus a loss of patent rights). Your particular situation should be discussed with a patent practitioner.
Our practitioners can craft a variety of cost-savings approaches that may be used to assist in minimizing or deferring cost for budget-limited entities.