Budding entrepreneurs are being urged to utilise intellectual property protection as they return from the holidays with new business ideas.
Brian Goldberg, partner at intellectual property firm EKM, says the best business ideas are often conceived during the holidays, during which time people are more inclined to share their ideas with others.
“Holiday time allows you to get away from your daily tasks and let your mind escape. Whether you are on a beach, at a barbeque, a pub or camping, there is a chance you have been inspired and potentially thought of your next winning business idea,” Goldberg says.
“[The] best ideas are often conceived during New Year holidays as it is a chance for you to reflect on what has happened and then work out what could happen if you do it better in the year ahead.”
Goldberg says start-ups often make the mistake of sharing their ideas with others too early, particularly in social settings where conversation flows more freely.
“You might find yourself in a social setting – everyone’s in shorts and T-shirts – and you can’t help but share your idea,” he says.
“However, you leave yourself open to people stealing your ideas; people with the scope to implement the idea quicker than you.”
Rather than sharing your idea with everyone, Goldberg advises start-ups to write their idea down in order to “take the idea from the mind into a presence” and date it.
“Research is the next important phase. People who don’t know how [to conduct market research] should visit an intellectual property firm to discuss the merit of their ideas in relation to IP protection,” he says.
“We know how to guide them while maintaining the confidentiality aspect of their ideas. Then they probably need to look at [their idea] and say, ‘I’m going to give this a go’.”
With regard to making an idea public, Goldberg says start-ups should wait until the design or trademark has been registered.
“That allows you the basis to claim your invention and ultimately protect it. However, most ideas now have an international scope, which increases the risk,” he says.
“We would be very conservative with the type of information that is released [prior to registration]. For example, describe the service or promote the feature without revealing the technique behind the scenes.”
Goldberg says the most common form of IP protection is trademarks, which typically relates to brand names.
“Brand names can be very powerful in the marketplace and have a high value. If you’ve come up with a winning brand name, you may be able to seek trademark protection,” he says.
“If you’ve come up with the design of a product, consider design registration, which is specially [designed to protect] the look.”
If the new product is inventive, then there may be scope for a new patent. Copyright is also a form of IP protection.
Goldberg says IP protection is time-sensitive, which means start-ups need to take action as soon as they develop an idea.
“The sentiment is ‘Once it is successful, I want to protect it’. The challenge for a start-up is to protect their ideas before they are successful, otherwise the opportunity is lost,” he says.