Protection strategies for your intellectual property can help you to secure a future competitive advantage, in a best-case scenario through a – at least temporary – monopoly position.

Finding the right protection strategy

At first glance, the intellectual property law appears like a legal jungle. It covers all regulations on industrial property rights, for example trademark, patent and design protection, as well as copyright. Can your product, brand, design or technology really be protected? And if so, in which countries will you need this type of protection? Overcoming these hurdles requires a lot of desk research and eventually the appointment of a specialist – if we are talking about secure technological innovation.

Industrial property rights for startups are somewhat paradoxical. A patent should protect you, but also contributes to the publication of the protected content, because a large part of the patents is publicly available. Moreover, defending your rights can take a lot of time, money and energy.

»Depending on the industry, the resources put into IP protection are a waste of energy, time and money. It can be much more useful if these resources are invested in product development, for example to shorten the time-to-market. «

Simon Schmincke, Creandum

Is less more?

In any case, there might be less effortful strategies for you as a startup to play it safe and gain a minimum of protection. Some basics are: before you use a brand or company name, first research whether this name is already registered as a trademark (preferably worldwide). Later on, when you have been some miles down the market and received recognition, it may save you changing legal documents and sunk investments in company branding. Also secure your desired Internet domains as early as possible and clarify whether your company name can be entered in the commercial register. In the case of a corporation (AG or GmbH), no other company can register for the same name if the registration is successful.

Learn more about the fifteenth module „Intellectual Property“ of the Startup Navigator in the handbook.