One of the things I see small business owners do that I dread is asking for feedback about a new idea in a Facebook group. Seeing people excited about their ideas is great, but doing this is a dangerous practice; here’s why.
As a small business owner, you may constantly develop new ideas and creative solutions for your client’s needs. In helping them realise their dreams, you must protect your ideas to ensure they do not fall into the wrong hands without your consent. You can keep these ideas safe by taking proper measures to safeguard your intellectual property so only those you authorise can access them.
Read on to learn how to protect these valuable assets legally during development and gain peace of mind while turning an idea into a tangible product or service.
Understand What Constitutes Intellectual Property
Intellectual property law is an important area of law that small business owners should understand. It includes using trademarks, copyrights, and patents to protect property such as brand names, logos, music, books, and inventions. Understanding the basic principles of IP law can help small business owners protect their ideas and innovations by giving them exclusive product or service rights.
While small businesses may be able to access some of this knowledge online, there is great value in having a small business lawyer in your corner, so you can effectively navigate the nuances of IP law. A small business can ensure its efforts get all the legal recognition it deserves by investing in professional advice and educating itself on the legal aspects of intellectual property. By engaging with a qualified lawyer experienced in small business needs, small business owners can ensure they take an informed and legally correct approach when protecting their ideas and creations.
Learn Ways to Protect Your Ideas
In today’s highly competitive digital world, protecting your ideas is more important than ever. Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) are a great way to do this, as they can protect confidential information shared between you and another party. Taking necessary steps such as having NDAs in place, refraining from discussing confidential topics on social media, and ensuring that you don’t inadvertently share your ideas with ‘friends’ too early will help ensure your ideas remain secure. On the other hand, failing to take these precautionary measures can result in unwanted or unauthorised use of your intellectual property and private business information such as processes, formulas and client lists. Taking the necessary measures upfront will save you a lot of headaches down the line!
Utilise Copyright, Trademark, and Patent Laws
Copyright, trademark, and patent laws vary significantly between jurisdictions and can be a complex area of legal protection for individuals and businesses. It is important to understand the fundamentals of each to protect your rights and meet any legal obligations that may arise. By familiarising yourself with the varied copyright, trademark and patent laws applicable in your industry or business’s region or country, you can effectively safeguard innovative or creative works while remaining compliant with industry regulations.
TIP: IP Law in Australia is reasonably complex. Engaging a lawyer early in the idea development phase can save a lot of heartaches later.
IP Australia has recently released an online tool, TM Checker, which provides business owners with an easy, free tool, to start the trademarking process. However, applying for a trademark with a potential crossover of likeness with another registered trademark can be more complex. If this is the case, you should engage a lawyer.
Establish Agreements and Contracts with Others
When establishing agreements and contracts with others, it is important to follow proper protocols. This can range from having a Non-Disclosure Agreement when working with a service provider such as a coach, consultant, business support service or accountant, signing contracts for business partnerships or simply staying mindful of the understanding between yourself and other parties involved.
TIP: Even people you ‘should’ trust, such as business advisors, can use your ideas if you don’t protect them. NDAs should be signed by everyone your share your ideas with.
Being able to document agreements allows all parties involved to have peace of mind knowing that expectations, responsibilities and payment terms have been appropriately accounted for. Taking the time to thoroughly review potential agreements with an experienced small business lawyer will help avoid confusion and set clear boundaries for everyone’s benefit.
Consider Engaging a Small Business Lawyer for Support
Starting a small business can be both an exciting and daunting opportunity. With many factors, such as legal documentation, tax compliance and other obligations to consider, you may feel overwhelmed. However, engaging the help of a small business lawyer can give you the support required to ensure that your small business is successful in achieving its goals.
An experienced small business lawyer will have the necessary experience to provide sound advice on all aspects of small business law and guide you through legal processes and contracts within the small business world. Investing in the help of a small business lawyer can provide you with an invaluable resource for assistance, allowing your business to focus on growth and prosperity whilst not giving away your precious ideas.
A solid plan to protect your intellectual property can be an involved process. To get started, the best approach is to understand what constitutes intellectual property and how to safeguard it. Consider copyright, trademark, and patent laws. Protect yourself further by establishing NDAs with key stakeholders and engaging a small business lawyer for support. If you have valuable ideas that could potentially turn into a business opportunity, don’t put them at risk – commit to protecting your ideas so your hard work is not wasted.
Grab your easy-to-edit, instantly downloadable Non-Disclosure Agreement and start protecting your brilliant ideas!