What to Ask: Intellectual Property and Incorporation | Micah Jeppsen, Esq.
UpCounsel attorney Micah Jeppsen explains what every startup should be asking their legal team about intellectual property and incorporation2 min read
Are we generating any intellectual property that is being ignored?
One of the biggest things that many new businesses ignore is their IP generation. Usually, IP is generated within teams trying to solve problems for operations, or for their product. Often times, this IP is being ignored.
How can we get our employees/engineers to notify us of IP?
Many companies set up a reward system to help employees begin focusing on IP submissions.
If we did have IP, how can we capture it?
Companies should have a standard invention submission form that could be used by an employee and reviewed by an attorney.
Do we have any one capable of reviewing invention submissions?
If a company does not have an in-house attorney that can review inventions from a patent viewpoint, they should find an outside counsel that may be able to help.
Do we have a budget for spending on IP?
Many businesses ignore IP and its benefits as they are typically focused on products and clients. However, IP can become a source of revenue generation in the long run.
What is the best way a small business owner can protect personal wealth and assets from business risks?
Small business owners should consult an attorney when structuring their entities.
What specifically are small business owners most confused about when you first meet with them?
Business entity setup.
How can quality legal services help a small business grow?
Quality legal services, especially in a patent sense, can help the small business build a moat, and can also generate licensing revenues.
How can quality legal services help small businesses save money?
While patents cost money, they can also help save money when it comes to litigation costs.
How can small businesses maximize the value of their legal team’s services?
Know what your processes should be, and determine how much can be outsourced.
Should business partners have the same amount of equity in a company? Why or why not?
Business partners having the same amount of equity makes sense for a small group of partners. However, larger groups of partners can benefit from one partner having a disproportionate share if that partner can help lead the business.
What are the top three things a small business owner should be aware of when purchasing an existing business?
Find out if there are any patents, copyrights, or trademarks associated with the business, How long have the employees been there? Are there any key employees who would be hard to replace?, Find out if there are any human resources issues or outstanding lawsuits pending against the company.
Do you have any other essential legal guidance for startups that you haven't already included in this survey?
Please begin to be acquainted with an attorney so that you feel comfortable getting answers to questions without needing to be billed. This will be a huge support in the long run.