Starting A Business? Here's How You Can Legally Protect It
Mar 19, 2020 02:18 PM EDT
Building a business from scratch can be a challenge for a variety of reasons, and getting your head around the legal side of this process is one of the trickiest steps.
If you want to protect your start-up and ensure that it cannot be exploited by third parties, there are a few things you can do, the most important of which are covered below.
Prevent IP infringement
The most important asset of a fledgling business will be its intellectual property, but unfortunately it is also possible for established rivals to infringe on your IP and potentially devalue it.
There are a number of solutions to stopping this, including registering for patents where relevant, as well as trademarking any names and branding that you develop.
Of course even if you have registered with the appropriate authorities, it is still possible for your IP to be infringed by others; this means that it is important to be prepared to take action in this eventuality. This page outlines the ways you can monitor competitors to detect and counteract infringement as and when it occurs, rather than allowing it to continue unnoticed or unchallenged.
Non-disclosure agreements are standard in many businesses, providing employees and outside consultants with a contractual requirement to keep anything they learn while working for or with your start-up a secret.
The advantage of using NDAs is that they make certain that competitors cannot get tipped off about the projects you are working on, the products you are developing or the ideas that are central to the future success of your business.
Ultimately if you want to discuss your plans with anyone else, especially during the early stages, adding an NDA to the equation will be sensible as well as entirely acceptable to most people, while also giving you recourse to pursue legal action if the terms are breached further down the line.
It is not just necessary to protect your business against the actions of others, but also to ensure that it is covered if something happens for which you are legally liable.
General liability insurance is your best bet in this context, allowing you to offset any costs that might come from being hit with claims made about incidents which occur on-site, such as physical injuries and property damage.
There are other types of business insurance which may also be worth investing in, such as product liability insurance and worker's compensation insurance, although not all will be relevant to start-ups.
Avoid trademark & copyright violation
Just as you should protect your own IP, you must also ensure that your business is not treading on the toes of other individuals and organisations, particularly in the early stages of its development.
Thankfully you can quickly check to see if your plans will clash with existing trademarks by searching official government sites. You should also never make use of copyrighted material without the express permission of the owner.