The accelerators


I’m a fan of the Wall Street Journal-based blog “The Accelerators.”  It is written by various, guest startup founders and executives.  Guests discuss the strategies and challenges involved in creating new businesses and they speak from experience earned in the trenches.  Recently, the topic of intellectual property was discussed.  Here are a few of my favorite exerpts:

    A 21st-century businessperson is a knight too.  His or her top asset, however, is not combat prowess but rather ideas, and what protects those ideas---the armor---is the trademark and patent.  A medieval knight who got cocky would likely be killed.  You get the modern parallel. . . . Making it a priority for your company can be the difference between championing your brand and changing your brand.  Both are labor-intensive; only one is fun.  Michael Chasen, CEO SocialRadar, co-founder Blackboard Inc.

    [F]or most ideas and most founders, your first priority should be making your idea a reality, not filing a patent. . . . do the minimum that you can, like filing provisional patents. . . .  Jyoti Bansal, founder/CEO of AppDynamics

    If you decide that patents make sense for your business, you want to file as soon as possible. . . . the first step in IP protection for any business is registering your company and product name with the USPTO. . . . The bottom line is that startups should work with and experienced IP attorney to develop and implement an IP protection strategy as soon as they have the conviction to build a business and have sufficient proof of demand.  If you wait too long, your costs will rise and your ability to protect your IP will diminish.  Matt Gorniak, co-foundor G2 Crowd

    Whether or not it is wise to invest time and money to apply for a patent, trademark or copyright on your startup’s core intellectual property (IP) assets depends on the nature of the IP itself, your industry and its competitive dynamics and the contribution IP is expected to make towards your startup’s ultimate success. . . . It is critical to have a realistic picture of the true costs of obtaining IP protection in terms of time, money, team distraction and public disclosure.  Only an experienced IP attorney in your field can truly assess these costs.  Lili Balfour, founder/CEO Atelier Advisors

    [A] lack of patents could be a deal breaker at three critical moments:  when you’re raising capital, when you are securing . . . partners and when you’re being acquired. . . . [P]ursue a provisional patent . . . Our patent lawyer helped the company determine the best way to take our complete solution and parse it into . . . applications that would be most strategic to the business.  Lynn LeBlanc, founder/CEO of HotLink

    The money you pay your intellectual property (IP) lawyer should be judiciously spent.  However, the potential costs associated with an IP mishap can be catastrophicJohn Greathouse, Rincon Venture Partners

    Being sued for infringement [by a competitor] is an unfortunate rite of passage for many companies. . . . it usually means that you are consistently and decisively winning customers away from them, they have no ready business response, and they have exhausted any other means of competing with you directly in the marketplace.  Matt Krna, principal SoftBank Capital