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8 tips from a patent attorney

For tech startups, the most valuable assets are often invisible. While businesses have traditionally been built on physical assets, today’s economy is increasingly driven by intangible assets. This is how the chip company Arm earned a valuation of $40 billion and a reputation as the UK’s leading technology company – despite never manufacturing a single chip. Instead, the company designs the processor architecture used in countless devices.

This intellectual property based business model has transformed the stock markets. In 1985, less than a third of all assets in the S&P 500 were classified as intangible by 2020, that share had risen to about 90%. However, startups may overlook IP protection in their original plans.

According to Robert Lind, patent attorney at IP firm Marks & Clerk, they are taking a big risk. Lind recently wrote an e-book about how to protect their intellectual property and monetize it. He shared his best tips with TNW.

1. Start your research as soon as possible

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According to Lind, technology companies often ignore IP until their company is exposed to creative and financial dangers. He advises them to start researching before they really need it.

Of course, Lind suggests that their study materials include his e-book. But he doesn’t recommend relying on professional advisors all the time.

“Arm yourself with the knowledge from the start so you know when to call in the experts — and when not to call them in,” says Lind.

For tech startups, patents are the primary form of IP that can be protected. Founders must educate themselves on what a patent is, how to get it, how to enforce it, and how to interpret third-party patents.

2. Keep it confidential

It goes without saying that your brilliant idea should remain private, but that’s easier said than done.

“Going public doesn’t just mean selling a product,” says Lind. “It could be presenting a conference paper, publishing an article in a journal, or posting some information on your website. Be very careful about publishing your ideas before taking a position on whether something is patentable.”

3. Carefully identify your innovations

Innovations are the lifeblood of patents, but they are not always easy to identify. Many researchers and engineers do not realize that their work can be of valuable IP.

“It’s very important that you have regular internal reviews and milestones in your project plans to see what innovations have been made and whether or not they should be patented,” says Lind.

Lind has been a Marks & Clerk patent attorney for 24 years.  He graduated from the University of Glasgow with a BEng in Electrical and Electronic Engineering followed by a PhD in Bioelectronics