As regular readers of our International Intellectual Property Legal Blog undoubtedly recall, we recently wrote about common mistakes entrepreneurs make with their IP.
The previous post covered topics such as ignoring infringers (and being heavy-handed with IP enforcement), missing United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) deadlines, as well as needless waiting (entrepreneurs who wait to launch their business until they’ve been issued a patent or trademark).
What follows is a list of more common IP errors made by business owners.
Misstatements to investors
Patent owners need to be very cautious and exact when talking to investors about what the patent covers. “If you say something to the investors that’s different than your filing — word for word — technically, you are claiming the patent covers something it does not,” Utah patent attorney Jason Webb said, as quoted in a Forbes article. His advice is to give investors a copy of the patent and urge them to have a patent attorney look it over, so that they can see exactly what the patent covers. Don’t make claims about the patent and don’t talk about potential infringement. Instead, “leave those communications in the hands of your patent attorney.”
Webb told Forbes that entrepreneurs can evolve a company brand away from IP protections, which can mean that your company’s trademark has been left behind. He said it’s important to file new trademark applications to cover the changes. He also said that patents can be similarly abandoned. When a product evolves, it might no longer be the one described in your patent. Changes to a product’s core should be discussed with an attorney who can help an IP portfolio evolve as products and companies shift.
Inventors believe their creations are beautiful, Webb told Forbes. And the belief is usually reinforced by friends, families, colleagues and others. He cautions entrepreneurs to break out of that love bubble before they invest in IP protection by conducting research to determine the size of the market. Don’t assume that everyone will love your product just because your mom and your friends do.