Our podcast hosted special guest Brian Goldberg who is a trademarks and intellectual property (IP) expert at trademark.ventures in Melbourne, Victoria.
A keen start-up advocate, our chat included breaking down all things intellectual property and how to prevent your business from falling into the common start-up pitfalls. One of the fundamental things many founders often overlook is the fact that someone may have already had the same/similar idea and attempted to execute it. Therefore it is more important than ever that you do your homework and research whether your brand and idea are actually original.
This bit of extra time spent could be the difference between losing your brand in future by a complete stranger, or being protected by law allowing you to focus on operations. One way of doing this is to see what trademarks or patents already exist in the brand name that you have chosen. Ultimately, you do not want to dedicate your countless hours to promoting and selling a brand that in essence belongs to someone else. The first you will know about this is when you receive an unexpected letter saying that your company name/idea has already been trademarked or patented.
To prevent yourself from this predicament, go to https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/ to check whether or not the brand exists and what trademarks and patents are present. Don’t forget to also do a quick google search to see what exists beyond the Australian market.
Nonetheless, even before you come up with a name there’s a couple of things to consider. According to intellectual property laws, your brand name should be distinctive but not descriptive. So a HR company can call themselves ‘People power’ but cannot brand themselves ‘Human Resources’. The name should also reflect the nature and benefits of the business.
The term IP is thrown around very loosely. It pays to know what the term means, as it is crucial to business well-being and security. As a concept it can be divided into 4 categories:
- Trademark: Brand name
- Patent: Inventive product or service that is an enhancement to what has preceded it.
- Design: The look and shape of the product
- Copyright: Owners of created art and literature. If 3rd parties involved, need services agreement to transfer ownership rights once content is transferred to you
A typical scenario may be a founder who is unable to build their own e-commerce website/platform and has signed a non-disclosure agreement with a developer. Upon the business reaching a level of success, the developer decides that he wants his share from having built the site. How do you approach this situation?
This is where the service agreement is going to save your bacon, because you have already agreed that any work the developer does is not for them. Rather they have surrendered the rights over to you once they receive payment.
Some of the ways to avoid these hassles, is to not rush going public. It is detrimental to any IP that the company owns. Also work in a step-wise manner so that you don’t miss anything along the way. Do not feel the need to accelerate growth and IP sell off in a bid to outsource most of your company operations. You might eventually be left with very little and regret not having spent the time to nurture your business and maintain a locus of control.
Before we let you go, our guest left us with some wise words of advice. He mentions that when it comes to the success of your idea, look at what market you are going to serve, whether it be local or international, is it a trendy idea and where does this trend exist? Do you need to capitalise on the existence of a particular fad or is it a more sustainable long-term, slow growing kind of idea?
Mr Goldberg enlightened us with these thoughts and many other insights into the world of IP law, should you wish to learn more or acquire his services, checkout his website trademark.ventures or you can find him on Linkedin.
If you would like to listen to the full podcast you can find it at: https://www.ahmadelhawli.com/business-wilderness-podcast/