Tech Startups and Intellectual Property Decisions

Startups centered around a technological development or product are highly popular in this day and age—and for good reason. Companies such as Apple or Facebook originated in garages or dorm rooms and are now each valued at hundreds of billions of dollars. Even if you are not a technical person and know nothing about programming or coding, you can still start a successful tech startup, as evidenced by companies such as Pandora. It is not surprising that individuals are continually trying to bring the next big idea to life and start their own tech company.


However, like any other type of business, there are many legal concerns for tech startups. One highly important concern is how to properly protect your intellectual property (IP). A novel and viable idea is generally the heart of a tech startup and you do not want to risk your success by failing to adequately protect your idea. The following are only some IP concerns that may be relevant to your tech startup.

Choosing the right type of IP protection

Just as intellectual property can come in many forms—an idea, a brand, an invention, an artistic work—so can the legal protections for your IP. In order to secure IP protection, the IP must be eligible for that type of protection and you must meet all application requirements. In addition, some IP protections cost more than others to secure and some have a longer term of protection than others. The major types of IP protections that you may consider include the following:

  • Copyrights
  • Patents
  • Trademarks
  • Trade secret protection

In order to choose the most appropriate protection, you should closely evaluate the nature of your IP, the scope of protection desired, and more. A business attorney who is familiar with intellectual property law can advise you of your options and can help to ensure your IP protection needs are met.

Think about protecting your IP when seeking developers or investors

If you have an idea but do not have the means or skills to fully develop your idea into a product that is marketable, you may need to shop your idea to individuals or companies who do have the assets and/or expertise to make your idea a reality. However, before you disclose your idea to different parties, it is imperative to have legal protections in place that ensure that those parties cannot use your idea for their own benefit.

One way to protect your IP in this situation is to have parties sign non-disclosure agreements, also known as NDAs. These are legally binding contracts that prohibit those who sign from misappropriating your idea or other information that you want to remain confidential.

Another way to protect your invention is to apply for a patent. This process can be costly and time-consuming, however, and you may not want to commit time and resources to a patent if you are unsure of the success of your tech idea or product. Fortunately, you may secure a provisional patent that gives you temporary protection while you shop your idea.

Discuss your IP concerns with an experienced San Jose business lawyer today

At Structure Law Group, LLP, we have helped numerous tech startups with a wide variety of legal matters, including protecting their intellectual property. We ensure that all of your relevant legal issues are addressed to increase the chances of your success from the very beginning, so please call our office in San Jose today at 408-441-7500 for more information.