Strong, confident businesswomen are a force to be reckoned with, which is why intellectual property is a huge deal. Competitors see the potential and want to stop it dead in its tracks. One of the best ways to do it is to steal ideas and repackage them as their own. Not only does it stump you, the curator, but it helps them turn a profit.
Ladies, no one should take anything from you without your permission. The sad thing is this is a world where no one is too scared to poach an idea because it’s hard to tell who is going to be the next Uber or Twitter. And, they can do it without being face-to-face.
Here are four ways to ensure it’s you, the legitimate heir to the throne.
“PPA” stands for Provisional Patent Application and it’s the paperwork you file before the traditional patent. Why? Well, the submission can take weeks, even months to come back in your favor. All the while, a rival might hear about the theory and adapt it to make it their own. Because it’s not an exact replica, they won’t be penalized. PPAs include the different variations of the idea and techniques, especially if you file more than one. This helps to prove ownership in an IP battle.
As the saying goes, loose lips sink ships, which is why your cards need to be close to your chest. A culture of not revealing info to anyone other than a trusted source will stop leaks. However, don’t forget that computers aren’t infallible. Lots of entrepreneurs store stuff on there without the correct cyber security service and it goes missing. If you do use a server as storage, ensure it has antivirus software which protects against phishing, Trojan Horses and ransomware. You should shred and burn documents, too.
You have a bona fide idea and want to keep it a secret – this is a no-brainer, right? No, not necessarily because there is no proof that you owned the IP. The secrecy will haunt you in this scenario if someone does steal the idea. Instead, make it known the company is in the business of breaking through in the industry. Of course, do this as the patents are finalizing not to take any chances, yet don’t be scared to publicize the results. That way, there will be a media trail in case of anything sneaky.
Trademarks and patents don’t last forever. There is a time limit, and when the deadline is up, it’s open season on the idea. So, forget the dates and times of the license renewals. If you have to, set a reminder on your phone weeks in advance and one closer to the time. Or, ask if the authority will allow you to keep the patent rolling with a direct debit on the exact date of the renewal. Ladies, you’ve got to pay to play to protect your designs.
What’s the key to safeguarding your ideas? It’s organizing the paperwork.