Protecting your ideas

As small business owners competing against larger players, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is how to protect your ideas or inventions from theft and imitation.

If you come up with a winning idea, there is little to stop big companies taking it and claiming it as their own if you don’t have protection.

Intellectual property (IP) is an asset. Indeed, investors may consider backing companies that have no discernable revenues purely based on the value of patents and licences owned. Banks will even lend money against IP.

However, it is still a difficult area for small business owners and remains expensive and complicated.

Ultimately, there are no hard or fast rules but it is worth looking into protecting your business IP if you have an innovative product or idea. You need to weigh up the costs of getting protection and can find online information on IP protection from the official government body responsible for granting IP.

Patents, copyright and trademarks are all legally approved methods of protecting an idea. It makes sense for entrepreneurs to use a combination of legal protections, secrecy and, as far as possible, only dealing with people you can trust when developing a new product.

Protecting your IP requires constant vigilance and, no matter which course of action you take to protect your assets, the reality is that it will cost money.

Not protecting your IP could prove much more costly in the long run, perhaps even killing off your business altogether. Peace of mind might justify the expense.

See also: The dangers of intellectual property infringement for small businesses

Adam Wayland

Adam Wayland

Adam was Editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2006 to 2008 and prior to that was staff writer on sister publication BusinessXL Magazine.

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Intellectual Property

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