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When should I start protecting intellectual property?

When you're working to develop a new idea and get it off the ground, it can sometimes be difficult to know when it is the right time to begin working on your intellectual property policies and protections. Many companies face this difficulty, and if it is not handled wisely, it can leave you and your ideas dangerously vulnerable.

It's never too early to start working out the broad strokes of your intellectual property agreements and protections. In general, patents may be filed within one year of public disclosure of your idea. Of course, public disclosure can occur before you think it does. In some cases, testing a product in the public without the use of nondisclosure agreements could qualify as public disclosure.

Once the clock begins ticking, it is exceptionally important to work out your intellectual property protections as soon as possible without cutting corners. As you begin to move through the process of developing your idea, you will probably partner with other service providers. In many cases, these third parties will include intellectual property clauses in their service agreements, which may chip away at your intellectual property rights if you're not careful.

If you have a well-delineated idea, you should consider speaking with an intellectual property attorney as soon as you can. With proper legal guidance, you can make sure that your ideas remain well-protected in a face of quickly evolving policies about intellectual property. If you do not know if you are ready to make some of these steps, a legal consultation can help fill in the blanks for you and give you important clarity on the process.

Source: Kellogg Insight, "Waiting to Protect Intellectual Property Could Doom Your Startup," Aug. 03, 2017

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