Let’s Talk About Intellectual Property Security
Crowdfunding has been behind some of the most innovative ideas of the last five years. But project starters must still be wary of the dangers lurking in the crowd. Businesses and artists that share their ideas with the world are vulnerable to intellectual property theft if they do not practice safe crowdfunding.
Protecting your campaign starts with a little discretion. While it’s important to promote and discuss your ideas, there’s still something to be said for revealing too much. For instance, a tech firm releases a new device. While supporters need to understand what the product does, they do not need to know how to build it. This same principle applies to brand names, customer lists, and all digital property, up to and including videos, images, music, and content. In light of these dangers, let’s consider how to practice safe crowdfunding.
File for appropriate patents, copyrights, and trademarks wherever applicable before launching your campaign. In some countries, inventors cannot file patent applications if they’ve already approached the market with their product. In other instances, investors are required by law to file within one year of making the invention commercially available. Do yourself a favour and do not wait this long! Safe crowdfunding means being aware of the risks and liabilities and taking the necessary precautions to keep your original ideas your own. The process may be tedious — sometimes even expensive — but these steps are necessary to ensure safe crowdfunding!
Every investor must sign a non-disclosure agreement. This document is typically drafted and witnessed by an attorney. Always make copies of the original contracts and licenses. Filing your papers in more than one place may provide an added level of protection. But even if you have all of the necessary documents in order, it’s still up to you to ensure compliance. This means monitoring your investor and supporter interactions. Double check the marketed information does not put your project in jeopardy.
Understanding the Risks
Although funders are warned that projects may not deliver on their promises, some still hire legal representation after-the-fact to withdrawal their donation. This could be worse if that backer had influenced the project or helped in some vital way. In order to prevent this from happening, not only must you plan (and then plan some more), but you must also be careful what information you share. If you advertise only what needs to be said about the project, you give yourself creative leeway between the first and last day of the campaign.