Arthur R. Lehman, L.L.C.

Is intellectual property security an issue in your startup?

Like many other innovators, you may have conceived the idea for a brilliant technological widget by working nights and weekends in your garage. Friends enthusiastically contributed their ideas and you began developing plans to form a new company.

You want to get the company off on the right foot, and that means thinking about how to protect your new widget and its fellow widgets going forward.

Assigning intellectual property

Even before your doors open, you must make clear who owns what. For example, your friends should transfer the intellectual property they develop to the company by a written agreement. In exchange, they should either receive money or shares in the new business. When you hire employees, they should sign confidentiality as well as invention assignment agreements. The same goes for consultants and independent contractors who develop intellectual property for your company.

Inside a confidentiality agreement

Draft this kind of agreement to include:

  • A statement that confidential information is only used exclusively for the benefit of the company
  • An understanding that the company has ownership rights over ideas, discoveries and inventions
  • Disclosure required for any ideas, discoveries or inventions that relate to employment

Keeping intellectual property safe

Without the proper written documents in place, your intellectual property could easily find its way to competitors. In all companies, but especially in tech companies, intellectual property is often the most valuable asset. Keeping it safe should always be your top priority.

How is your company taking precautions to keep its intellectual property safe?

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