Tips for Protecting Your Startup’s Intellectual Property

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) defines Intellectual Property(IP). These creations include inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, symbols and names, and images that are used in commerce. These creations are what make a business thrive. Think of franchises like KFC or Coca Cola, or google’s search engine algorithm. Anyone with the right resources could easily access the IP of these companies and be able to replicate the product’s unique features and sell it under their name. Many countries around the globe recognize common ways to protect IP. These include trademarks, copyrights, and patents. To ensure that your hard work is protected, it’s crucial to understand the different concepts and how they relate to your business. It doesn’t matter if you don’t take all necessary security precautions. However, it won’t mean much if someone else can legally steal your work. You can also make it illegal to use your own invention if someone tries to stop you from protecting your IP. This is why I created the following list of common IP protections to help you protect your ideas. You can read the article and find out the IP offices in different countries. Contact them if you have any questions.


Patents are an exclusive right that is granted to an invention. An invention is a product, process or method that changes the way you do something. A patent application must contain technical information about the invention in order to obtain a patent. Patents give the owner the exclusive right to the invention and prohibit others from using the invention. Patents are territorial rights. They are only valid in the country where the patent was filed and granted. They generally last for 20 years after they are granted. Examples of popular technology include the electric lightbulb and telephone, computer, Bluetooth, and Google’s Pagerank.


This legal document protects creators’ rights over literary and artistic works. This covers books, music and paintings as well as sculptures, movies, computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings. Copyright protection is limited to expressions, and does not extend to procedures, methods, or mathematical concepts. Copyright protects two types of rights:

Economic Rights: This gives the owner the right to receive financial compensation for their work, prohibit certain uses of it by others, and be compensated for any use of their work that is not theirs. These economic rights may allow or prohibit the following:

– The reproduction of work

– Public performances, such as a concert of music

– Recording a work

– The adaptation of the work into something like a movie, play, or television

Moral rights: Protect author’s non-economic interests. This includes things such as preventing author changes that could damage their reputation.

Copyright protection in most countries is automatic, but many countries have a formal system that allows you to obtain copyright protection. If you have the option, it’s a good idea to formalize your copyright protection.


A trademark is IP protection that protects a sign that distinguishes the goods or services from others. Think of examples such as the nikes checkmark logo or Geico’s talking gecko. Trademarks give the owner of the sign or licensed third parties the exclusive right to use it. Usually, the owner pays the licensee for the right. Trademarks, unlike the other protection methods, can be applied at both a national or international level. You can file a trademark request with each country’s trademark office or the WIPO Madrid system to obtain protection in as many as 122 countries. Trademark registration can be renewed for an indefinite amount of time. Although it may last for a longer period, the average duration is ten years.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets refer to IP rights that protect confidential information. This is not publicly disclosed, but gives you a competitive advantage. According to the WIPO, these are the formal criteria.

– It must be of commercial value as it is secret

– Only a small group of people can know you

– The rights owner must take reasonable steps in order to keep it secret

Trade secrets can be used to access any type of business information, whether it’s technical information such as computer program designs or commercial information such as advertising strategies.

Trade secrets can also include a combination or group of items that are not publicly known, but which together make a secret. A recipe for a food product might have ordinary ingredients, but the combination gives the company an advantage over others.

Protecting trade secrets is more complicated than other types of information. Because a trade secret does not provide protection against someone stealing information from another company. This must be proved. If they come to the same conclusion by their own research, reverse engineering, or market analysis, then they have not violated any trade secret rules. Only if the trade secret is made public by unfair trade practices, such as breach of contract, breach of confidence or commercial espionage that it becomes effective and can be enforced.

Geographical Indication

Geographical Indication (GI), is a sign that can be used to identify products with a particular geographical origin. It also identifies products that are known for their reputation or have qualities due to their origin. This protection allows those who have it to stop third parties from using the sign that refers to the product’s area. It can be used for industrial products, food, and wine, as well as agricultural products. A group of producers can request it and the local authority grants it. This includes Scotch Whiskey and Champagne, as well as Parmesan Cheese.

Industrial Designs

An industrial design is composed of three-dimensional features such as the shape or color of an article. This design owner has the right to prohibit third parties from selling, importing or making articles that use a copy of it for commercial purposes. It can be either a complete copy or a partial copy of the design to be considered a copy. This is common with jewelry, graphic symbols, and graphical user interfaces. While you can apply locally for an industrial design under the category of registered, some countries offer special design patients.


It is important to identify and protect the IP that is the heart of your business. Many inventions have been stolen because people were slow to secure the idea. This is not something you want to do. This is a listing by WIPO of IP offices worldwide. You can visit this page to find the office closest to you and get IP protection immediately. You should also be aware of the countries in which you might do business and ensure that you are properly protected.