Monday, January 18, 2010

What Is An Acceptable Business Risk For Your Business?

Think you got an idea> Give Reading Word's The dark side of IP a read.

Business people often scoff at lawyers that "you have to take risks in business." True, but the risks should be valid risks: venturing the new product, entering the new market, changing up the marketing and ad campaign, leveraging up for growth tomorrow. Unacceptable risks should be those which introduce fines and penalties, complex litigation and jail time. Many businesses rarely think of the dark side, the flip side of their IP: On whom might you be infringing with what consequences? The reality is that if you do infringe, it will be expensive, time consuming and ruinous to your model. They can shut you down and take your profits. Don't consider this an acceptable business risk. Get the evaluations you need.

I know you don't like thinking about IP rights: they're complicated, uncertain and seem to cost you coming and going, for filing and defense. You tend to protect and defend what you can and leave the rest to fate, calling it risk. Don't. You have talked to the lawyers and have got a lesson in costs. A patent can cost $50,000 and up and may yet not issue or may may be invalidated, and the invention may yet infringe. After all the development costs for your goods and services, patents, and trademarks and copyrights are expensive to defend. Many businesses tread skeptically. Many choose to protect their inventions as trade secrets and close their eyes to much of the real world fate of their IP.

Think about how quickly you can be shut down and your profits stripped should your product be ruled to infringe, even a seemingly old, obscure patent. Unless you examine your work honestly according to the reality of IP law, you too run the risk of high damages and costs and being shut down. You need to pay those few thousand dollars at the front end before you go out on a limb and have experts examine the real world for patents, trademarks and copyrights which your products and creations might infringe.

Do you have any ideas what legal woes your business may be sitting on? By the time you think you need a lawyer, the mess may be big enough to swallow the business whole. An ounce of prevention....