Updated: May 11
This is a fascinating realm of law.
Wikipedia defines Intellectual Property (IP) as Intellectual property is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human
intellect, and primarily encompasses copyrights, patents, and trademarks.
Most of the IP attorneys I've met who do well also have science or engineering degrees. This makes them the kind of lawyers who know exactly how to protect your ideas and technology. There are two reasons why you must protect your intellectual property. The first reason is that if someone steals your ideas and produces a competing product, you need to
have the ability and legal right to sue them. If you are not going to protect your IP, you’ll very likely never make a profit.
Deciding whether or not it’s time to talk to an IP attorney comes down to using the classic IP decision tree. The Henry Law Firm (we are neither endorsing nor not-endorsing these
lawyers and have no association with them) has published an outstanding one page flow chart showing the basics of the patent process. We highly recommend that you read it.
The second reason to protect your IP is so that you can license your technology/product to bigger companies. Quick question here – Did the founders of GPS (Global Positioning
Systems) make more money from selling directly to customers (including big companies) or from licensing their many technologies? You already know the answer. And here’s another secret, they used an army of IP lawyers to protect their rights.
Licensing can be broken down into two words – Preparation and Negotiation. Once you have established your legal rights to your intellectual property, almost everything else involved
in licensing, things like understanding antitrust laws, setting the payments, clawback provisions, exposure, conflicts of interest, time to patent expiration, royalties, each parties
responsibilities and many other areas are all settled through negotiations. You cannot have a licensing agreement if you do not have legal rights to your intellectual property.
There are different kinds of technology licenses. And licensing agreements are usually created in context and correlation to other legal agreements. There are many questions you will need to answer.
Licensing is a complex process. Do it yourself? Or partner with someone who walks this road often? The choice is yours. But if you don’t license you are leaving lots of money on the table for someone else to collect. Licensing and protection of your intellectual property can seem overwhelming and there are many different paths - we are here to help!
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