Pete Tormey’s ebook “Startup Guide to Intellectual Property: Early Stage Protection of IP” is a great resource for helping new and small business owners protect themselves and their ideas. It provides a good guide to the types of intellectual property and how startups can best manage intellectual property in the early stages of the company.
In his chapter “Protecting IP Early”, he explains ownership of Intellectual Property.
Besides the four major categories of intellectual property, there are other tricks available for startups to protect their IP. The goal is to keep your IP clean and avoid costly fights later. No startup wants to spend money on lawyers, so here is some advice and “war stories” that will help keep your IP safer and your legal costs lower.
He offers the following advice:
Under patent law, every inventor must be listed or you risk losing your patent rights altogether. Usually when you’re starting off, the ideas don’t seem to have all that much merit and no one really cares. Besides, who wants to fight over ownership when there’s no money on the table? However, if the idea is successful, people with very remote relationships to you will show up claiming to have some type of ownership interest. Disgruntled (and even gruntled) ex-employees are famous for this. So be clear about inventorship.
It’s also important to understand “work-for-hire” and why it’s better to be explicit:
There’s a legal concept called “work-for-hire,” which is kind of a default rule that says if you pay someone to develop something for you, then you own it. For example, if you hire someone to produce an invention you thought of, or to make some marketing posters that might be copyrightable, and you paid them to develop these things for you, then you own the rights in the intellectual property they made. If a work is “made for hire,” the employer—not the employee—is considered the legal author. However, since there is nothing in writing, disputes can and will arise. These can be costly and derail a startup business, so it’s best not to rely on work-for-hire unless you need to.
For outside consulting expertise, he gives this advice:
Have a good employment agreement, especially for contract employees, which clearly states that anything they develop for you on this project belongs to you. All of their rights to it belong to you if you can get them.
The ebook is a straight-forward and practical guide of guidelines and considerations and full of honest advice. Read the full ebook at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NPGSGT8/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1