“Entrepreneurs often come up with ideas that can be protected, and this article lays out the pros and cons of various intellectual-property protections,” says Dr. Stephen Schanz, a teaching associate professor of management, innovation and entrepreneurship at NC State and the author of the article. “Furthermore, the paper urges entrepreneurs to weigh the time, cost and effort involved in pursuing various intellectual-property protections.”
The three protections outlined in the paper are patents, trade secrets and copyrights. Patents apply to inventions and devices. Utility patents provide legal protection of the idea for 20 years, dating from when the patent application is filed. However, when the 20 years are up, the information becomes part of the public domain. Trade secrets also apply to inventions or devices, but are protected internally, meaning that there is very little in the way of public protection. The benefit is that the idea never enters the public domain, so it can remain secret in perpetuity – a good example of a trade secret is the formula for Coca-Cola. However, if anyone else figures it out, they can legally market it themselves.
The third type of protection is a copyright. Copyrights protect unique expressions, such as music, art or design. These elements can be a significant component of marketable products, such as the sounds and images associated with popular video games.
“Determining which protections best suit your needs is not a ‘one size fits all’ scenario,” Schanz says. “The options you may want to consider will vary over time.” For example, he says, “entrepreneurs in a young start-up company with limited capital and resources may want to go the trade secret route until they ascertain how it fits in their business plan. But, if they have determined that the idea is valuable, they should also take steps to ensure that – eventually – it can be patented.” Schanz explains that if an entrepreneur discusses the idea with outside parties who have not signed non-disclosure agreements, the idea may no longer be patentable – it will have entered public domain.
“If, over time, the start-up company has more resources available – and the concept is commercially viable – it may want to pursue a patent,” Schanz says. “The important thing is for the entrepreneur to weigh the risks and benefits of various options and make an informed decision. This paper should help entrepreneurs do that.”
The paper, “Entrepreneurial Options for Protecting Intellectual Property,” was published in the September issue of the Entrepreneurial Business Law Journal.
Matt Shipman | EurekAlert!
Frugal Innovations: when less is more
19.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO
Europe's microtechnology industry is attuned to growth
10.03.2017 | IVAM Fachverband für Mikrotechnik
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences