Protecting Intellectual Property: A Simple Guide for Start-ups

Intellectual Property
Protecting Intellectual Property: A Simple Guide for Start-ups img

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Protecting Intellectual Property Every business or startup is constantly creating valuable intangibles every single day they operate. These intangibles can sometimes be even more valuable than the tangible assets held by these companies. Your business ideas, creative work, marks, logos, designs, inventions, and basically anything that will provide your startup with a valuable edge in a competitive market are all part of your intellectual property (IP). Getting your startup off the ground and ensuring that it remains profitable involves having a good strategy to protect your intellectual property.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

IP law serves as a powerful deterrent to unauthorized usage of your intellectual property rights (IPR). It serves to notify the rest of the world of the consequences that will follow should they use your IP illegally. It also helps you attract investors and build relationships with other businesses that may want to form strategic partnerships to benefit from your intellectual property.

However, it would be unwise to look at IP law simply as a shield or a sword used to protect from or litigate against third parties. A robust IP regime allows you put down a value for your information and inventions. Your IP becomes an asset that can be sold, licensed or used as collateral.

How can startups protect their intellectual property?

When it comes down to protecting your IP, the best thing is to have a plan early on. This means you must identify what types of IP you aim to protect to devise a strategy. The Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan (IPO) provides guidance in this regard. The framework of law that protects such IP can be broadly classified into four categories:

Patents

Patenting your product or invention will provide certain exclusive rights over their use for a period of 20 years. Applications for patents can be found here and must be submitted with IPO-Pakistan’s headquarters.

Copyrights

Copyrights provide protection for an owner of creative work from groups that may use the same for unauthorized purposes. The Copyrights also ensure that the creative work remains solely profitable for the author. An application can be filed at the Copyright office and if successful, a certificate is provided. Forms can be found here.  

Trademarks

Trademarks are used to distinguish one product from another. They may be in the form of a phrase, a word, or a design that differentiates the good or service from others. An application can be filed at the Trademark Registry department of IPO-Pakistan. It is also worth noting that since Pakistan has now joined the Madrid system, one should further apply for registering an international trademark with WIPO. This will prevent competitive businesses from copying and imitating your product in jurisdictions other than Pakistan as well.

Design Rights

Aesthetic and design-related elements in your work can be protected using design rights. Applications can be found here and an additional application can be made under the World Trade Organization’s international arrangement for further protection by Protecting Intellectual Property.

You should take into account the role that technology plays in the dissemination of information. Information is now communicated faster than ever and if information is shared with third parties without the right confidentiality obligations. You could do your firm serious harm. So a professional can help you create documents such as Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and Confidentiality Agreements to protect information that you share with others.

The information presented does not constitute legal advice. If you need more information or have a query, post on sidekick.pk and get proposals from trusted Professionals.