Trademarks and the protection of intellectual property should be vital to any business, particularly those in tech? Wrong! Over the years I have seen too many businesses blow too much of their scare management and financial resources trying to register various types of IP.
A few have managed to get trademarks, but I can’t think of any early-stage edtech company that’s been successfully in prosecuting anyone for infringement of their IP (please let me know of any examples).
Why? Taking any IP litigation is expensive and comes with a very simple opportunity cost calculation – should you spend your money on lawyers or innovation?
IP can seem like the gold dust that attract investors, but it’s fools gold if you can’t defend it, but more importantly it diverts money that’s better invested in continuous innovation.
Lawyers and accountants are a core part of the start-up scene, but founders and investors have to remember they have a different motivation (raising billable hours and building their careers) from the companies they serve. The key with all professional advice is to try and find individuals who share your passion,understand your business and who will remain committed to it and you through the ups and downs of any entrepreneurial journey.
The best two pieces of advice I have ever gotten from my lawyer and accountant were:
- “Go home have a few glasses of wine and a good sleep and if you’re still upset tomorrow call me back”
- “You can’t come to the tax office audit as you may say something stupid that will make matters worse.”
Sage advice indeed and almost as valuable as the personal business tip I always give to entrepreneurs and students (when asked): learn to read upside down – it really helps in almost every meeting.