This is a subscriber-only article. Join Entrepreneur+ today for access

Learn More

Already have an account?

Sign in
Entrepreneur Plus - Short White
For Subscribers

4 Steps to Better Protect Your Ideas Brainpower is good. Brainpower you own is far better.

By Jim Morrone

This story appears in the February 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »


Of the scores of items that VCs review, the one that they often care most about -- after a solid business plan, of course -- is intellectual property (IP). It's a startup's most valuable asset, and the companies that bake IP protection into their businesses from the start make for more attractive investments. But IP is more than just a patent or registered trademark. I've outlined four additional -- and simple -- steps you should take to protect, preserve and enhance this asset.

1. IP-assignment and nondisclosure agreements

Require all founders, employees and third-party service providers to enter into some type of IP-assignment agreement before starting any work. It should state that anything created while working for the company is the property of the company. Without this, the company might not be able to claim, or have proper rights to use, key portions of the IP required to drive the business. And when you try to line up investors, finance or even sell the company, a lack of these agreements can cause havoc -- forcing renegotiations or, worse, killing deals outright. These IP assignments are simple and standardized, and there's no excuse not to have them.

The rest of this article is locked.

Join Entrepreneur+ today for access.

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Sign In