Common Start-Up Mistakes to Avoid

by | Feb 4, 2015 | Intellectual Property

So, you think you have the next big idea for the marketplace. Step one, protect your intellectual property. You might already be in discussions with potential partners and have prototypes of your product in the works, but before you get too far along in the process, be sure to heed these tips to avoid some common start-up mistakes:

How to Protect Your Intellectual Property

Develop your idea on your own time

Most new business owners start hatching their ideas long before they have quit their day jobs. That’s fine, but make sure all of your new business development work happens outside of your working hours. Using your employer’s time or resources to develop a product is not only unethical, but it could mean the company can claim your intellectual property at a later date. Keep in mind that your contract with your private employer or university may pre-empt you from developing your own inventions while under contract, so be sure to check the fine print.

Establish IP ownership early

Before you launch your company, you have likely discussed your ideas with advisors and potential business partners. You might even have a friend working on the early stages of the product development. While it might feel like your business is merely a dream during this phase, the output of these efforts could cause some real disputes down the road. Make sure you have contracts in place that clearly establish your business’ ownership of any ideas and prototypes under development.

Register your business

In order to ensure that your future business has a rightful claim to the ideas and products created during the early development stages, it is helpful to legally register your business. Developing your ideas under the name of a business helps legitimize them and helps establish your ownership of those ideas. It also clearly names the legal partners associated with the business. Visit the Small Business Administration’s website for more information on registering a business.

Obtain trademarks, patents, and copyrights

Your best protection against intellectual property disputes is to legally register your idea, body of work, or product using a trademark, copyright, or patent. To learn more about this process, visit, the U.S. government’s resource for helping inventors and innovators protect their IP.

EmergeCounsel can help you with your business entity formation, IP protection, and employee policies. Visit us at to learn more.


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