Entrepreneurs are typically hard-working and decisive, armed with a vision of how their business can rise above the competition. They also tend to be creative people who are risk-tolerant and adaptable.
Sometimes successful entrepreneurs are so focused on day-to-day operations that they overlook or put in jeopardy some of the most valuable assets a business can possess: intellectual property.
Fortunately, the mistakes entrepreneurs make can usually be remedied or avoided entirely. Let’s take a look at some of the most common IP mistakes made by business owners.
Some entrepreneurs think that they must wait to launch their business until a patent or trademark has been issued. Utah patent attorney Jason Webb told Forbes that entrepreneurs shouldn’t do nothing during that waiting time. Webb said, “‘Patent pending’ is a good state. So go ahead and begin.” In fact, Webb explained that patent-pending status is good for protecting your IP right and inventions. The status serves as a warning to others about copying an invention.
Fully protecting intellectual property involves a lot of deadlines (filings, responses, fees, etc.). Webb said when people miss a fee deadline, they must typically pay penalties that increase over time. At some point, however, missed deadlines can mean that your application for IP protection is irretrievably canceled or dismissed. “Entrepreneurs are often big thinkers, but not organized followers of rules,” he said. “If you’re not on top of details like this, get someone working with you who is.”
Far too often, people who hold a patent or trademark believe the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is out there enforcing their IP rights. Wrong. “You have to enforce the rights you’ve established on your own.” And sometimes entrepreneurs err in the other direction and enforce their rights too aggressively. He used the Candy Crush game as an example. The app owners claimed trademark infringement by what seemed at the time to be virtually everyone who used the word “candy” in any way in apps. Public backlash was swift, sending the Candy Crush team into damage control mode. “Don’t get a reputation as someone who lays down and lets others steal,” Webb said. “Nor do you want to have a reputation for being a bully.”
We will have more about common mistakes entrepreneurs make with their intellectual property. Please check back with our Intellectual Property Legal Blog.