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Protect your idea, after all it’s all you have got!

This is a series of guest articles by Brenda Matanga on Intellectual Property and its impact on innovators and entrepreneurs

ip-and-startupsEvery tech entrepreneur’s heart lies the dream of converting their intellectual capital into a huge pay check. After many sleepless nights of working on what you hope is a million dollar project in your own “Silicon Valley”, one becomes desperate to take that idea off the ground and pitch it to potential investors. As one engages investors, vendors, project partners or even employees; it is very important to safeguard one’s idea or the innovative solution or product stemming from that idea lest all that effort comes to naught.

The reality is that every company strives to cut costs or to incur no cost at all when acquiring intellectual property (IP) assets. Capitalism is ruthless and doesn’t look out for the interests of the creators of innovative products or solutions. Whilst a few principled companies will pay you for the true value of your innovative product or service, most large corporations would rather usurp the idea from at no cost and implement it themselves. As an intangible good, intellectual property is susceptible to theft and start-ups are vulnerable to this because they don’t have the financial resources to commercialise their products and they can’t afford to sue these big companies if their intellectual property is stolen.

Before you approach a potential investor, it is important to obtain the necessary intellectual property law protection for your product or service as this enhances your bargaining power. Intellectual property lawgives you the essential legal cover in protecting your ideas through patents, copyright, trade secrets and trademarks. The writer will discuss patents briefly then the other available options in the next articles to this series.

If a product /solution is novel, involves an inventive step and is industrially applicable; one can obtain a patent for it. A patent is basically a document issued upon application by a government office or regional office (acting for several countries), which describes an invention and creates a legal situation in which a patented invention can only be exploited (i.e. manufactured, used, sold, imported) with the authorization of the owner of the patent.It gives you an exclusive right to prevent others from commercially exploiting an invention without your permission for 20 years. You may part with a few dollars and cents in the patenting process but if an idea is bankable, it should get you a good return on your investment.

Be warned, the capitalist jungle is brutal, it has no respect for small players with just an idea but no capital to turn that idea into a product/service. Accordingly, it is extremely important to cover your back and ensure that your idea is safeguarded by using intellectual property law to secure it.

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4 thoughts on “Protect your idea, after all it’s all you have got!

  1. Thanks for the article, but it brushed over many of the actual details I was looking for. As far as I was told, you cannot patent an idea because anyone can have an idea. So then what can you do to protect it, I once heard of corrupt bank managers who would use the business proposals of applicants who failed to qualify for loans. How can we protect ourselves from such exploitation?

  2. Fidelity-An idea,without being turned/expressed into material form-tangible product or solution is not protected by any form of IP. It’s when you express that idea in some form that the law grants you IP protection.The form of IP you use to protect is determibed by theinnovative solution or product that you have come up with.In the case of a proposal one can protect themselves by copyright- more details will be provided in our article on Copyright to be published on this platform.Other non IP solutions will also be discussed in such a scenario as the one you presented.

  3. Keep you idea for ever and you will be broke for ever.Its that simple.Its give and take.If I am a potential investor and u want me to invest in something I dont know ? Keep thy intellectual property and I will keep my money.

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