Tips to use incubators and accelerators without putting IP at risk
Programs offering entrepreneurs with an opportunity to find success abound. Although these programs are tempting, it is wise for those in business to take a step back and make sure their intellectual property is properly protected before becoming involved in an accelerator or incubator program.
These programs may be offered by prestigious universities or well intentioned, successful businesses. Regardless, involvement can put an innovative idea or product at risk by entering the public domain before steps are taken to help fully protect a business’s intellectual property. The issue was recently addressed in an article by Forbes, noting that intangible assets can make up over 90 percent of the company’s value. Without proper protections like copyrights and trademarks, this intangible property could be stolen and put a company at risk.
More on accelerators and incubators
In order to understand the danger, one must have a better understanding of the potential risks. Although both accelerators and incubators work to help young businesses find success, they do it in different ways.
Accelerators are designed to offer advice and support to businesses for a relatively short period of time. Generally, a business’s relationship with an accelerator only lasts from three to six months. During this time, the business may receive the funding and expertise to take a product from concept to market.
Incubators can offer similar services, but are generally used for a longer period of time. An incubator may be as simple as a common office, allowing multiple entrepreneurs to share a space, supportive staff, and production equipment. Since multiple people are sharing these services, the overhead cost is reduced. Admission to an incubator can be difficult and may require the entrepreneur to put together a business plan for review by a screening committee.
These programs can be sponsored through private companies or large universities. Regardless of the sponsor, entrepreneurs should tread carefully to help better ensure their ideas and products are not stolen.
Careful involvement can increase success, legal counsel may be helpful
Becoming involved in an incubator or accelerator program could help increase the odds of success for a business. Savvy entrepreneurs can take advantage of these opportunities while still protecting their valuable intellectual property with trademarks and copyrights. Contact an experienced intellectual property lawyer to help protect your product. If you feel that another has already infringed on these rights, this legal professional can fight for you, helping to mitigate both lost profits and any damage done to one’s reputation.
Mark Wilson, a trial attorney, has won nearly every case he has tried or arbitrated. He lost only one jury trial and obtained a complete reversal on appeal. Mr. Wilson represents clients in business litigation and legal malpractice cases and was named in the 2017 – 2020 SuperLawyers Top 50 Orange County lists. Mr. Wilson is a California State Bar certified specialist in Legal Malpractice Law and can be reached at (949)631-3300; [email protected]; https://www.kleinandwilson.com