Seeking investors, new clients, or even new personnel, an owner must frequently reveal details about the business to others. With that being said, here are a few steps you can take to prevent stealing as you begin to share your ideas with others.
A Non-Disclosure Agreement
A non-disclosure agreement will help safeguard non-public business information such as proprietary and confidential information, and trade secrets. It should be used with contractors, investors and business partners. Nevertheless, it is important to note that many financiers will hesitate to sign an NDA before you speak with them. This situation may be handled by providing a written confidentiality statement identifying what you consider to be proprietary, confidential, and trade secret.
A Provisional Patent Application
A patent can incur more expense than a startup is able to pay. During the course of shopping your idea, a provisional patent application can protect your idea for the first year. Provisional patent applications have a low cost and are easier to prepare than a full non-provisional patent application. After one year, the provisional patent application expires; however, a provisional application can be converted into a non-provisional application if done prior to expiration.
A trademark can provide an additional layer of protection, since a company's name is often closely tied to its product. Trademarks help to build brand awareness and goodwill. Also, by registering a trademark, you have added protection in the event that a legal issue arises. You can only pursue legal avenues if your trademark is registered. As with a patent application, trademark registration helps to establish the date your idea came into use. These dates will be crucial in the event someone tries to dispute ownership of your idea.
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