What Every Startup Needs To Know: IP Pitfalls- Poorly Written Or No Agreements- Part Nine

By Debby Winters

Using poorly written agreements or no agreements at all can be a disaster for the startup. Not only is the valuation of a startup based on the IP that it owns, but also on the agreements with IP clauses. Examples are not just limited to things you typically think of as IP agreements but can include employment, consulting, funding, collaboration, settlement, licensing, research, and material transfer agreements. Thus, poorly drafted or non-existent IP-related agreements can be problematic for a startup.

Because of a lack of sufficient funding, many startups attempt to save legal expenses by using template IP-related agreements from a variety of non-professional sources, including the internet. However, such agreements can fail to include clauses that adequately protect the startup’s interest and in many cases, can include clauses that jeopardize a startup’s IP. Thus, when using IP-related agreement templates, the startups should have such agreements at the very least vetted by IP professionals. Startups can also do themselves a disservice by using an attorney who is not familiar with the nuances of IP law.

Many IP-related agreements, particularly research agreements, generally include confidentiality, publication, and IP clauses. The startup should review confidentiality and publication clauses to ensure that confidential information, including trade secret information, is protected from disclosure and that the startup has the right to review manuscripts and other materials containing confidential information before publication. With respect to the IP clauses, the startup should make sure the language allows for retaining its own IP and for protecting jointly developed IP.

Furthermore, with respect to patent license agreements involving a third-party licensor, startups need to make sure that the license agreement provides all the rights needed to commercialize the licensed technology, includes future improvements to the technology, and retains the right to sublicense the technology. The agreement should also have a sufficient termination clause in the event the startup needs to opt-out of the agreement.  The agreement should also specify the relevant field of use and possibly other fields for future expansion. Importantly, the startup should review patents to ensure that the commercialized product materials, methods, and tools are properly claimed with patent life remaining. This should be drafted and reviewed by an experienced IP attorney.

In conclusion to the series of blog posts dealing with common IP pitfalls for a startup, the process of bringing a new startup business to life and in launching new products to the marketplace can be an exciting time. However, many startups are so focused on bringing a new product or service to market that they fail to take the necessary steps to protect the associated IP. Failure to put an IP plan in place can cripple valuation and expose the startup to potential third-party infringement risk. In contrast, startups can protect and exploit their IP assets to build value and revenue by developing an IP plan as part of their conception, creating an action plan to protect IP assets including protection of confidential information, securing ownership rights to the IP, conducting freedom-to-operate searches, and ensuring properly drafted IP-related agreements are in place.

If you need help with your IP or with protecting it, let me know.

Need Help Boosting Your Social Media Posts? Check Out Datarank

If you are posting to social media to boost your business, it is important to know what days of the week get the most views and attention to your posts. This is dependent on the social media platform that you use. Datarank is a company that can help you decide what day to post and what platform to choose. In their recent blog post, Discover the Best Times to Post on Social Media, by using its analytic tools the folks at Datarank have found that posting to Facebook on Thursday and Friday get the most attention, while posting to LinkedIn in the middle of the week, Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday will get that attention you are looking for. Twitter gets most views Monday – Thursday. But the research goes beyond just the day of the week and the platform, it also shows that the kind of post you make, and the demographics of your audience can be important factors. For a more in-depth look at what Datarank can help you learn about your social media postings, check them out!

Datarank can turn social insight into decisions that grow sales!

By Debby Winters

How To Blog If You Don’t Have Time…I’m Listening!

By Debby Winters

I recently came across Michael Hyatt’s blog post entitled “How to Blog If You Don’t Have Time.” Go on! I thought!

Hyatt lists 7 things that he does to make his blogs fit more easily in his busy schedule. The one that caught my attention the most was his no. 3 – to use a timer. He sets a micro deadline for himself, say 90 minutes, sets his timer and focuses to get his blog finished by his artificially imposed deadline. Hmmm…wonder if that would work for me. I feel like if I told myself that I had a set amount of time to work on my blog that mentally I might find it easier to accomplish. I frequently have what I think is a great idea for a blog post but then ask myself when will I have time to write it in a comprehensible way?? I find myself asking that question day after day until sometimes the idea is no more timely and I give up.  This is a trick that I’m going to try. It is like exercise…60 mins and it is done.

If you want to make your blogs fit into your schedule, check out Hyatt’s ideas and see if any of them will help you. In the meantime…I got a blog to finish before that darn timer goes off! Good Luck!

To Blog Or Not To Blog…

By Debby Winters

If you own a business and are thinking about whether you should start a blog or just stick with posting on social media,
consider the advantages of doing both. Blogging provides your business an opportunity to share meaningful knowledge with potential clients and customers. This in turn let’s them like and trust you. And it is a good way to get these potentials to know you because once they know, like and trust you and your company, the sale isn’t too far behind. The two combined are great for a marketing push.

People have to subscribe to your blog. This takes time, but by pushing educational blog content out via social media, you introduce your thought leadership to an entirely new audience of perfectly targeted prospects. Show your brilliance about the business through your blog.

Consider these 4 ideas when combing your blog with your social media marketing:

  1. Build your reach. Make a concerted effort to grow your social media numbers. These numbers include total Facebook friends, LinkedIn followers, Twitter followers, Google + followers and other social sites that pertain to your business. Actively work to grow them. This includes making sure those profile pages are built out and have educational content on them for visitors to see, read and share. Consider creating a contest. One idea is to see who can get the most new followers on your company’s LinkedIn page.
  2. Make the commitment. Blogging and building your social media reach requires a true commitment to the cause. Set time aside each day, every few days, or at least once a month to write.
  3. Be creative. Blogging can and should be fun. Use pictures, infographics, charts, graphs and anything that will catch the eye of a potential reader. And try to keep it under 800 words. That gives you enough room to make a point without losing interest.
  4. Blogging will make you better. There is, without a doubt, something incredibly remarkable about your company. Use that to help generate content that your clients or customers want to know about. Blogs are meant to inform and educate clients and customers on answers they don’t have and things they want to know about.

Just in case you were wondering, this blog has 377