Day 20: IP Law Tips

May 10, 2013 at 1:43 pm

In case you haven’t noticed, patents are making the news. IP law is in the headlines. Today, the folks at Fasken Martineau stopped by to talk IP law to the teams. And no, nobody was bored or uninterested. Turns out these guys have some pretty good stories that are all too relevant to startups today. 

Take John Baker, for instance. He started Desire2Learn when he was still in university. When he was building his e-learning platform, he thought he was building a fortress. Turns out there was a gaping door in his fortress. It was IP law. He ended up being sued by several agencies. He learned the hard way that IP needs to be protected. 

A common misconception is that technology evolves too quickly for patents. It doesn’t, and IP lawsuits are EXPENSIVE, so do your research!

Why patent?

1. Some investors like patents. How can you stop someone from doing what you’re doing? Patents. 

2. Exit strategy. Think of potential acquirers. They will see lots of value in you having a patent.


How can a startup implement a patent strategy? There are several different options available: 

1. Copyrights: protects human expression (novels, plays, drawings, movies, etc.) – extended to protect software

2. Patents: Protects the product of human ingenuity (achines, chemical compositions, electronic devices, etc.)

3. Trademarks: protects the means used by consumers to identify the origin of goods or services

4. Trade secrets: protects information and technical developments that have commercial value because of their secret nature

In short, startups need to do their research and always have sound legal advice on hand. If you do your duty and get your IP law covered, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches and money in the long run!