Protecting Your Intellectual Property

Michael J. Allan and Tremayne M. Norris

Steptoe & Johnson, LLP

Intellectual property (IP) assets can be—and often are—the most valuable assets of businesses throughout the world. IP is the driving force behind the fast-growing innovation that we see on a daily basis. IP generally relates to creations and ideas that legally qualify to receive exclusive protection for their creators. Examples of IP include patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. From smartphones and tablets to music, books, logos, and secret ingredients, IP personifies the creativity and ingenuity that fuels innovation. Despite the importance of IP, the general public often misunderstands what constitutes IP, and when and how to protect IP rights.

Failing to identify, define, and ultimately protect IP rights can mean the loss of any such rights. This risk is particularly heightened on crowdfunding platforms, given that the nature of the process involves publicizing a creation, innovation, or idea to the masses—without any confidentiality or nondisclosure safeguards.

This chapter is designed to provide an introduction to intellectual property and convey some best practices for protecting it on crowdfunding platforms.

The Importance of Protecting IP on Crowdfunding Platforms

Although the concept of crowdfunding is not new (the Statute of Liberty was funded through a public rewards-based offer), the advent of the Internet and the plethora of rewards-based crowdfunding ...

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