Florida copyright attorneyWhen you have a great idea for a copyrightable work and you want to make money from it, take action to protect your intellectual property (IP) before a copycat has a chance to get their hands on it.

How IP Theft Can Happen to a Start-Up Business

Copycats can come from unexpected places, as one pair of digital entrepreneurs learned the hard way.

To fully develop and market their product, they needed the expertise and facilities of several third-party vendors. Those outside vendors helped get the idea off the ground. The founders were excited as their business steadily grew.

Then one day they noticed a similar product being sold on the internet. They were not too worried at first, believing their version to be superior. Later that year, however, the new competitor started marketing a better product at a much lower price. The original partners, who thought they had a million-dollar idea, were suddenly at risk of going out of business.

After some detective work, the founders were astounded to learn that their competitor was comprised of three people from those helpful outside vendors—people who had been helping the founders with one hand and cheating them with the other. Thankfully, the partners had put IP protection in place early on and had gotten signed NDAs from each company they worked with. Their lawyer quickly delivered cease-and-desist letters to the competitor and the offending website was taken offline in short order.

How to Protect a Start-Up Business from IP Theft and Imitators

To help protect your ideas from copycats, here are three recommendations:

  1. Treat a big idea as a closely held secret from day one. Do not share it online. Do not share it even with friends and people you consider trustworthy potential partners. Talk to an experienced intellectual property and copyrights attorney first.
  2. Segregate your vendors. Do not give too much information to any one vendor, nor give too much responsibility for your success to any one vendor. For example, do not rely on one single manufacturer or distributor. While it may seem easier to manage fewer vendors, and to treat those vendors with trust and transparency, that can be very risky for a start-up.
  3. Watch out for copycats. As your business grows, keep an eye on what is happening outside your own walls. If you discover possible infringement, get your attorney on it as soon as possible.

Consult an Experienced Florida Intellectual Property Attorney

If you want to proactively protect your IP, or if you discover that a copycat has already gotten hold of your IP, get sound advice from a knowledgeable Tampa copyright lawyer. Nelson Cyber Law, PLLC, will help you take the right steps to secure your IP and stop copycats. Call 1-800-440-5536 for a short, no-cost consultation.