As an entrepreneur engaged in a startup, there are several issues that need to be resolved in the early days of establishing your company. Failing to do so may involve complicated legal issues where you will need an experienced criminal lawyer or corporate lawyer especially in terms of copyright and patents, where even partnerships especially, can go wrong.
One of the biggest real life examples of copyright litigation was faced by Mark Zuckerberg himself in the Zuckerberg vs. Winklevoss faceoff regarding the rights of Facebook. Though Zuckerberg himself walked away with the company, still the payoff to those who litigated against him including his partner, won a considerable amount of compensation.
However, not everyone can be lucky enough to own a company worth millions. With such factors in mind, it is imperative to take note of the legal aspects of a startup where every loose end should be tight enough to protect you from any chance that litigation lawyers will pursue you for copyright claims.
Here’s what you need to do:
Make a clear-cut agreement with your partners
An initial co-founder agreement will ensure you do not face any copyright problems from disgruntled co-founders. A partnership can go wrong, it happens. This is why you need to be firm in the beginning. A co-founder agreement should contain the following clauses:
- Percentage rights of individual members
- Designations of members and extent of responsibility
- The limitation of rights of a member resigning from the partnership
- The rights of remaining partners to buy shares from a resigning member
Patent and trademark your business right away
In order to avoid any issues of litigation or claims made by persons or founders in future a fixed trademark and patent of the company should be created with total rights resting with the management and founder body of the company.
Benefits of a legal trademark and patent
- Litigation against rights of the company
- Empowers you to take legal action against ex-employees using your business name
- Assures you exclusivity of a brand
- Identifies you as a unique brand or product
- Increases your leverage in the market and your commercial value
Acquire Three in one protection for your business
The biggest advantage in a patent is the prevention of your big idea being used by others. However, you need to provide ample proof that your idea is totally exclusive for it to be patented as such. Acquiring a copyright provides you the exclusive liberty to make limitless copies of your work while preventing others from doing so. Acquiring a trademark establishes you as an exclusive brand where you own the rights to the commercialization of your brand.
Make your employees sign a contract or confidential agreement
Employees should always be documented for their personal records. But besides such criteria, it is even more important to get them to sign an agreement that holds them binding to the protection and obligation of the company’s confidential information.
This achieves protection against leakages of data and valuable information to competitors. Even in the event of such a situation, it empowers you to take legal action against the offender.
Remember your startup be it an individual company or a partnership of founding members is the result of your hard work. It is your intellectual property that bears the potential to grow and reap profits. Thus protecting it from the very onset of establishment requires you to consider all of these issues seriously to avoid any commercial mishap in future.
If you find yourself in need of legal advice;
Family & Business Lawyers
Apply for a trade mark
Differences between trade marks, business and domain names