How can I protect my business Ideas?

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The term “intellectual property” refers to whatever you develop and want to release to the world. Intellectual property rights are the measures you may take to safeguard your creative ideas from being replicated or stolen and claimed as their own by a third party. Protecting your intellectual property may be vital to the success of your small company or startup. Your company’s fundamental assets are precious; thus, safeguarding them as soon as possible is essential.


This article will define intellectual property, discuss the many forms of IP, and explain how to secure your company concept.

Mins to Read: 20 – 25 minutes

Age Bracket: 20-40

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What is Intellectual Property (IP)?

The umbrella phrase “intellectual property” (IP) refers to whatever you produce and seek to protect against unauthorized usage. Whether you develop a new product, artwork, photographs, software, or copy for yourself and not for other people or organizations, you have the legal right to protect it against exploitation or duplication.


GOV.PH states that you own intellectual property if you:

  • Created it and satisfied the IP protection criteria (more on this in a later section)
  • Acquired intellectual property rights from the inventor and the prior owner.
  • Built a brand using a common word others might readily useful if you do not trademark it.


Intellectual property able to:

  • Possess many owners if more than one individual created the concept.
  • I belong either to an individual (or individuals) or a corporate organization.
  • Being sold or transferred is referred to as an “assignment.” Nota bene: this is distinct from licensing your IP, which includes granting another person or organization permission to use your IP. Design agreements include giving all of your rights to another individual or organization with the goal of no longer holding that IP.


If you are self-employed and generate your intellectual property, you will own it. However, if a person or company engages you, the intellectual property you cause is believed to belong to the person or company for whom you create it. However, if the company does not make you sign a contract indicating they own the intellectual property you generate for them, you are the legitimate owner of the IP.


As a result, it is best practice for company owners to expressly specify in all contracts that intellectual property developed by a contractor or employee belongs to the firm. Lawyers will assist you in avoiding any possible legal complications or liabilities. If you fail to comply, you may always have the contractor sign an assignment form to transfer the intellectual property back to your organization.



Moreover, suppose you must disclose your idea(s) to a third-party before filing a patent application. In that case, you may utilize a corporate confidentiality agreement, such as a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) or a non-compete agreement. Some intellectual property rights are given automatically, while others must be requested. Additionally, intellectual property has a finite lifespan and must be continually refreshed. In the next part, we’ll examine the many sorts of intellectual property and how to manage them.



Why is it necessary to protect your intellectual property?

As a small company or startup owner, you should consider securing your business concept. This covers your brand, goods, and services. When beginning a company, you devote much time, energy, and resources to entrepreneurship, putting your concept and business plan into action. The last thing you want is your hard work to be stolen or duplicated by a third party because you failed to protect it.


However, securing your intellectual property does not ensure that no one will seek to steal your invention. Thus, protecting your intellectual property makes it easy to defend your concept and pursue legal action against a person or company that aims to steal it. Therefore, intellectual property rights (IPR) are a potent instrument for safeguarding your intellectual property (IP) and market share. IPR offers you the exclusive rights to maintain an infinite market monopoly so long as you continually renew them.


As previously stated, intellectual property is vital to the firm’s success. Especially in the case of a startup, where the creativity of the concept, investment risk, and conquest are all intertwined. Among the many benefits that this protection offers, the following are highlighted:


  • The exclusive right prevents anyone from producing, manufacturing, selling, or economically exploiting the generated solution without the holder’s consent.
  • Facilitates company development since legal protection prevents competitors from adopting the concepts;
  • It indicates entrepreneurs’ dedication to their concepts;
  • It offers distinction from rivals by providing consumers with something fresh and inventive;
  • It produces revenue via the sale or licensing of the product or service.
  • Transmits the holder’s security, trustworthiness, and dedication to the buyer.


At first glance, this procedure seems to defend their ideas. It might seem highly intricate and challenging, prompting many entrepreneurs to disregard this phase. However, it is easier than it looks and a worthwhile investment of time and works for any business or entrepreneur.


The good news is that the law automatically safeguards some intellectual property rights. However, the business should inquire about other forms of excellent protection. When launching a company, it is necessary to ensure no patents exist. This procedure avoids having to cope with the potential of the holder continuing. Likewise, you must ensure that your intellectual property is not being infringed. It is incumbent on the entrepreneur to exercise since no one else would.



7 ways to protect your Business Ideas

Avoid Revealing almost everything.

The best way to protect your idea is to give only the essential details. Suppose presenting your ideas a notion to a potential buyer, supply simply the information necessary to express the concept. It is not required to disclose every aspect of your product’s operation. A notable exception is when you pitch to investors or lenders, who will likely need to know every detail of your product before investing in your business.


Use Non-Disclosure Agreements

A nondisclosure agreement will protect your idea before you expose it to employees or other business partners. Many customers will refuse to sign a nondisclosure agreement before you speak with them. You may be required to disclose the relevant information if you need purchasers. The same applies to prospective investors. Consider printing a confidentiality statement as an alternative to requesting a signature in your marketing approach.


File a Provisional Patent Application

A patent can be considerably more costly than a startup. A provisional patent might protect your idea for the first 12 months. The provisional patent expires after 12 months and cannot be renewed.


Make your name a Trademark

Because an organization’s identity is usually associated with its concept, a trademark can add an extra layer of protection. By registering a brand, you increase your protection against theft. The paperwork you submit when registering a trademark is written evidence that the concept you are promoting is your own. It also establishes the date your idea was registered to you if another party attempts to contest this fact.


Investigate the Recipients

Before exposing a concept to a potential investor, consumer, or contractor, you should examine that individual or business. With the Internet, information is readily available; a business owner can investigate a person before conducting business with that person. They can explore any issues with previous business partners and confirm the individual’s standing in their chosen field.


Adhere to Your Instincts

In examining the persons involved, you can also follow your instincts. Usually, alarm bells will sound if you are in a potentially dangerous situation. If someone attentively listens to every possible facet of your invention, you should consider their motivation. Is the individual’s goal to obtain a higher position? Is it merely inquietude? Or is it feasible that the individual has funds they wish to invest?


When engaging with someone with many years of experience in the business world and a portfolio of companies, that individual may not wish to steal another person’s idea. However, when speaking with a newcomer, you should divulge as little as possible about your product or service until you determine their motivation.


Document, Document, Document

Put as much as possible in writing and keep that documents as evidence for your argument in court. Create a log for each conversation in which you provide information about your business. Your concerns that others will steal the product you’re marketing restrict you from soliciting advice from others.


Once you’ve discussed your idea with a new person, they will be able to provide you with unique insights that will help you further develop your notion. This opportunity is lost by not mentioning your promotion to others.



The Different Types of Intellectual Property (IP)

According to intellectual property law, some IP rights are automatically given, while others must be requested. Let’s analyze the various IP kinds. But first, let’s define–



A trademark protects the identity of your firm. This comprises recognizable intellectual property such as a firm name, logo, or design. However, Your trademark is a means of distinguishing your brand from competitors and ensuring that they cannot replicate your identity. It also helps your firm appear more credible and professional.


Coca-Cola, for instance, has trademarked the name “Coca-Cola” in block capitals, as well as in the distinctive Spencerian script font and other styles. Trademarks are permissible if they assist in identifying and differentiating your branded, recognizable products or services from those of other brands.



In the Philippines, there are numerous categories of trademark intellectual property.


  • Unregistered rights: As mentioned in a previous section, certain IP rights do not require registration. Goodwill allows unregistered trademark rights to accrue over time. However, it is unwise to assume that your brand has acquired sufficient legitimacy to be called a trademark. There is no assurance that a court will find your favor; therefore, registering your trademark is suggested.
  • Registered rights: Registering your trademark provides irrefutable evidence that you own your fundamental brand assets. It is far easier to enforce registered trademarks than unregistered ones. Once registered, you should post the ® sign next to your mark to deter theft and indicate that it is reported.
  • A trademark is territorial, meaning that if you register your brand in the United Kingdom, you do not necessarily have the right to use it outside the United Kingdom. Therefore, you must file your trademark in each country where you intend to conduct business.


Here are the 4 types of IP–Patents

Patents safeguard inventions. History has taught us that it is important to keep ideas a secret until they are ready to be shared with the world, as the race to discover anything new is typically competitive.


To be eligible for patent registration, your innovation must be:

  • New
  • Something that can be manufactured
  • Beyond a mere tweak of an existing invention


Particular inventions, such as theory or discovery, and artistic creations, such as music or artwork, cannot be patented. Use the Intellectual Property Office’s (IPO) patent information and document service or the Patents Publication Enquiry to determine whether a patent has been registered or is pending (i.e., patent pending). Utilize Espacenet patent search for searching on purpose.


Numerous patents exist, and the application procedure is complex, costly, and lengthy. GOV.PH reports that just 1 in 20 applicants obtain a patent without professional assistance. It also costs an average of £4,000. This assistance and approval can take up to five years (though a fast-track option is available for inventions that offer an environmental benefit). You must additionally pay to renew your patent license each year, and the renewal amount increases with each passing year. Once registered, you can renew a patent for up to 20 years. Visit the GOV.UK patent forms and fees website for additional information.




Creation rights safeguard your design’s distinctive appearance, form, and ornamentation. It solely pertains to your design’s configuration (e.g., how the pieces of your plan, or shapes, are arranged together).


To be eligible for design patents, your design(s) must be novel and distinguishable from commercially available methods. You must also be able to demonstrate when you developed the strategy; therefore, it is essential to sign and date copies of each design as you create it. You can even take certification a step further. Design rights, like your trademark, can be either unregistered or registered. Unregistered design rights apply solely to three-dimensional (3D) configurations. Similarly to brands, registering your 3D design rights provides additional legal protection.


Here’s an example of a design right granted to Apple for their iPhone.





Original works, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, audio, visual, software, and web content, are protected by copyright. Copyright essentially safeguards your creative work from unauthorized usage by others.


Copyright cannot be registered, unlike the categories mentioned above of IP. Instead, it is granted automatically upon publication. You are permitted to use the copyright symbol () next to your work, but this does not increase or decrease the legal copyright protections. Consequently, it is recommended to utilize this sign. Copyright law is frequently acknowledged and honored internationally; nonetheless, you can contact the IPO Information Centre to learn more about intended copyright protections.


The duration of copyright varies depending on the nature of the creative work. The majority of copyright, including music, art, film, and written works, is valid for 70 years. The duration of broadcasts is fifty years, whereas the layout of public editions of written, theatrical, or musical works is twenty-five years.


You can license and sell your copyright to other individuals or businesses if you so want. To accomplish this, you must register your work with a licensing organization. Once registered, you can collect recurring royalties for the licensed work. There is a danger that a third party will attempt to utilize your work without your consent if you cannot register a copyright. To prevent copyright infringement, you can routinely check the license registry to determine if anybody has applied for a license to your work without authorization.


Alternatively, you can search online for your name or assets using a search engine such as Google to determine if somebody has used your IP without permission and a license. If someone has violated your copyright, you may need to seek legal counsel and take legal action to stop them. Suppose you do not like to go through the difficulty. In that case, you can still attempt to negotiate a license under which the third party will pay you royalties for utilizing your intellectual property.



Trade secrets

Trade secrets prevent disclosing confidential business information, such as a secret formula or a customer list.


There is no registration for trade secrets. Instead, trade secrets are protected under the law of confidence under the common law. Unfortunately, the only way to ensure that no one will steal your trade secret is to preserve it diligently.


When collaborating with third parties or engaging in partnerships, you should always need that they sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) to protect your secret should they legally.



What should you do if someone has copied your intellectual property?

First, it is essential not to panic. Your correspondence with the alleged infringer may be admissible in court. Instead, you should collect your thoughts and wait a few days to thoroughly comprehend the scope of the infringement and the desired solution. The next step is to write a cease and desist letter describing your complaint in detail; ii) identifies the intellectual property rights upon which your complaint is based, and iii) describe the remedy you seek.


You should give the alleged infringer a reasonable amount of time to respond. For a straightforward scenario, fourteen days will be enough. For more demanding tasks, 28 days may be more suitable. To enhance the credibility of your correspondence, you may decide to retain the services of an IP attorney or patent or trademark attorney.



Most intellectual disputes are resolved outside of court through discussion and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms like mediation. Legal proceedings are a significant step. At this level, you must be certain of the facts and grasp the case’s strengths and weaknesses. If legal action is necessary, you must know the potential costs and durations involved. Your IP attorney or patent or trademark attorney will access this information.



How early in the process of company ideation should you consider protecting your business concept?

Intellectual property should be your top priority from the very beginning. In general, an idea on its own is not patentable. The purpose of intellectual property is to safeguard how a concept is implemented. This implies that filing applications for registered intellectual property protection, such as patents, trademarks, and designs, is frequently inappropriate at the earliest stages of establishing a business concept.


Filing deadlines for intellectual property applications are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. As a general guide:

  • Before any non-confidential disclosure of the innovation, patent applications should be filed. If you disclosed detailed information under an NDA, it would be advantageous to file patent applications beforehand.
  • Once a brand has been selected, trademark applications should be submitted. Generally, it is preferable to file word mark applications first and logo applications subsequently. This is because logos are frequently altered before launch.
  • Generally, applications for registered designs should be filed before any design exposure outside of an NDA. Some nations have a 12-month grace period following the initial disclosure. However, this is not universal, so even if you were able to secure design protection in the United Kingdom and the United States, protection would not be effective in China, where there is no grace period.



How to Protect an Idea for a Business Without a Patent

It is normal to be concerned that someone might steal your idea. However, you cannot often bring your imagination to life without the help of others. Ultimately, you will need the guidance of an expert to evaluate your services or products. You are required to work with a producer or distributor. Patents can be expensive and time-consuming to obtain. You’ll be able to afford the extended wait if you get your product to market.


When you discover something problematic while exploring online for patent information or potential partners, you should consider inquiring about it. Everyone is aware that not everything on the internet is accurate. Even if a potential collaborator’s business tactics appear shady before you begin working with them, you may not necessarily need to abandon them.


  • Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA)

A non-disclosure agreement could be a mutual agreement between two parties not to disclose the information to third parties. A non-expiring NDA is quite effective.


  • Non-compete Agreement

When hiring an assistant, require them to sign a non-compete clause. A non-competition clause prohibits a person or entity from starting a business that will compete with yours or pose a threat to it.


  • Work-for-Hire Contract

If you hire an assistant to refine your product, you must ensure that any improvements to the concept are yours. However, it would be best to list the individual who made the improvements as a co-inventor on your patent. However, they have no rights to your innovation.




Why it is important to protect your Ideas?

Securing your intellectual property does not ensure that no one will seek to steal your invention. Thus, protecting your intellectual property makes it easy to defend your concept and pursue legal action against a person or company that aims to steal it. Therefore, intellectual property rights (IPR) are a potent instrument for safeguarding your intellectual property (IP) and market share. As previously stated, intellectual property is vital to the firm’s success. Especially in the case of a startup, where the creativity of the concept, investment risk, and conquest are all intertwined.


What are the ways I can protect my Ideas?

The best way to protect your idea is to give only the essential details. Suppose presenting your ideas a notion to a potential buyer, supply simply the information necessary to express the concept. Also, patenting your product can be considerably more costly than a startup. A provisional patent might protect your idea for the first 12 months. The provisional patent expires after 12 months and cannot be renewed. And, of course, always use A nondisclosure agreement that will protect your idea before you expose it to employees or other business partners.




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