Protecting Your Business Idea: Copyright advice for startups
Entrepreneurs are often hesitant to share their new ideas for fear of someone stealing it. However, collaboration is key to getting your business idea off the ground. So how can you protect your idea and brand?
Trademark your company name
Your business’ success may depend heavily on your brand and a key part of that are your name and logo; both of which you may be able to trademark. In order to stand out from your competitors you will need to have a USP and prevent competitors from copying this USP.
So how do you get a company name trademarked?
Unfortunately it is not enough to simply register a usiness name with Companies House in order to protect it, you will also need to do so with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
As a first step you will need to check that the name you want to register is available. To do this simply go to the Intellectual Property Office’s search engine. If your preferred trademark is not available then there are ways around this but you will need to request permission from the existing trademark holder or apply to evoke the trade mark. As a result this could be costly both financially and time wis – you may want to think of an alternative business name/logo if this is the case.
It is also worth noting here that you should consider whether a suitable domain name for your prefered trademark is available. If not, this could be a potential barrier to your future growth.
Register A Suitable Domain Name
A good domain name can be an extremely important tool in driving traffic to your website but possibly more vitally it adds credibility to your brand; particularly if your customer base is largely online. Once you have registered your domain no one else in the world can use it. You will need to think about the domain extensions you want and possibly buy multiple if the budget is available. For a UK market .com and .co.uk are preferable. However you may want to purchase .info .london or others depending on the market you operate in and to stop competitors creating copycat websites.
Protect Your Product – File A Patent or Protect Your IP
If you are selling a physical product the it is vital to check both whether it infringes on an existing patent and, if possible, apply to patent your own product. A patent protects new invention and stops others from making unauthorised profit out of it.
How do I get my product Patented?
First of all you will need to check that there is nothing on record when doing a worldwide patent search and your product is unique. If a patent has been granted for the product at any point in time in any Nation then it cannot be re-patented. Two useful databases for patent searching are:
Next you will need to draft a patent application. It is at this stage that you should really employ a legal professional to write up the document. This can take time and will almost certainly be costly but if you do not this may well come to haunt you i the future. The purpose of getting a product patented is to protect it and you want to make certain that there are no possible holes to exploit in said patent.
Lastly you need to file your patent and wait for a response from the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO). You can find a guide of how to do this here
How Important is a Logo Design for your Startup?
The logo design, or brand mark, remains the centrepiece of most branding schemes. Here we explain 3 key reasons why a logo is so important for startup businesses:
Building trust with customers and other stakeholders
Developing a level of trust with your customers is one of the keys to building a successful business. The ability to have a recognizable brand which delivers a consistent brand message gives your business a legitimacy and will help build a certain amount of familiarity and trust with customers.
It is not only customers you need to build trust with, there are other stakeholders to consider as well. Whether this is investors, suppliers or even your own employees. Your logo and brand will help form an impression of your business with all of these stakeholders. If you look like a serious professional business then it is more likely you will be treated professionally and even you and your employees may act more professionally yourself.
Moving your business idea forward into a reality.
Your logo should be a distillation of what your brand stands for. Thinking about what you want your logo and brand to look like will also help you to clarify exactly what your business represents. By taking time to do think about what you want to achieve with your brand you can really focus on what it is that makes your idea unique.
A large part of setting up a successful company is creating forward momentum. Anyone can have an idea but actually putting it into practice is the difficult part. Creating a tangible logo and brand is a major step in moving your business idea forward.
Standing out & being remembered
Your logo I often the first experience many people will have of your business. It is the face of your company but how important is it to have a logo which stands out from the competition? Ultimately it is important to remember that a good logo design will not automatically make your business a success, but it will give you the platform to build a trusted and respected brand.