Who Owns Your Startup’s IP?
By Randy Micheletti, a Intellectual Property Law Expert in the Salt Flats Ecosystem, President, Attorney at Incubate IP
This April, I’ll be hosting an event at the Innovation House by Salt Flats on The 5 Biggest IP Mistakes Businesses Make and ahead of that event, I’ll be sharing an insight to the content by discussing the question “Who Owns Your Startup’s IP?” Hint: It’s probably not your startup!
One of the biggest mistakes I see startups make has nothing to do with being innovative, or building a culture of creativity. Instead, it has EVERYTHING to do with getting your ducks in a row to avoid barriers to taking your investor’s financing and eventually exiting.
“What does that have to do with IP?” I can already hear you asking. Everything. It has everything to do with IP. And I should know: it was my job as an IP lawyer for the investors/buyers of startups to sort this stuff out.
The issue is that most startups (as in I haven’t met a single one yet) don’t actually own the intellectual property they’ve created. It sounds insane, right? The startup pays for the development of the tech, pays its people and vendors, and pays the lawyers for filing for IP rights. And yet the startup company still doesn’t actually own it??
That’s right. The startup may not own the IP rights it has paid to create.
This happens to be a particularly American issue; startups in most other countries automatically own IP rights in the tech they pay to have created. But here, our quirky IP laws create an absolute mess when it comes to ownership of IP assets.
At a high level, the default ownership of patents differs from the default ownership of trademarks, and copyrights are treated differently than either of those other types. And don’t get me started on trade secrets!
But more practically than that, the main issue I saw over and over again was the same: startups simply routinely fail to get simple ownership documents signed by the people who did the heavy lifting in creating the tech in the first place. That simple failure — an oversight in the moment, no doubt — delayed and devalued almost every single deal I saw in 8 years representing investors and buyers of small companies. And, sometimes, failure to perfect ownership of the IP assets even killed a deal outright.
If that makes you cringe, then come find out more about how to (inexpensively) prevent those horror stories from happening to your startup, plus four other common IP mistakes, at my April 16th event.
EVENT: The 5 Biggest IP Mistakes Businesses Make (and how to avoid them!) | APRIL 16th at 7:30am
Admit it: reading about another entrepreneur’s major gaffe is somewhat of a guilty pleasure. After all, you aren’t the one being hauled in front of the angry investors or frustrated board. But will you be next? Based on real situations from working closely with startups for over a decade, intellectual property law expert Randy Micheletti peels back the curtain on the top five mistakes young companies routinely make – and how to avoid each and every one without breaking the bank. Come for the (free) legal tips and tricks, stay for the schadenfreude!
This event is hosted at the Innovation House by Salt Flats on Tuesday, April 16 from 7:30 — 9:00a.
- 7:30a — Presentation
- 8:10a — Q&A + Networking
- 8:30a — Innovation House by Salt Flats Tour
- 9:00a — Event concludes
- 9:00 — 11:00a — “Office Hours” to meet with Randy Micheletti — schedule yours here
- 2:00 — 5:00p — “Office Hours” to meet with Randy Micheletti — schedule yours here
This Salt Flats Session is a complimentary event. Seating is limited, refreshments and light bites will be provided. Reserve your ticket now here>
About the Speaker
Randy Micheletti has built valuable intellectual property portfolios for companies big and small for a decade, and founded Incubate IP specifically to provide emerging businesses with the same sophisticated patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret strategies used by Fortune 50 firms…at a fraction of the cost. Randy holds a J.D. (high honors) from Chicago-Kent College of Law, a master’s degree in synthetic organic chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh, and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry/biochemistry from Augustana College. A third-generation Cubs fan, Randy is looking forward to the day the Ricketts family installs hot desks in the left field bleachers at Clark & Addison.