When starting the path of a startup, it is important to ensure protection of your people, your product, your presence and your process. Invest the time to take security measures for your efforts whether on your own or with counsel from a lawyer. Here are four areas to safeguard and preserve.
Protect Your Self (and partners)—Legal form of company (e.g. C-corp., S-corp., LLC, Partnership, DBA). It is important to establish an entity for your startup. This will make things Many entrepreneurs determine an entity, and incorporate in their home state—which makes good sense for most. But, for some, incorporating in another state might be a better choice. Consider Delaware for your startup for it’s flexible laws, legal processes, precedence, privacy, and price. Seek advice before choosing your entity. And, you can hire a lawyer or do it yourself. Find templates and agents via online resources such as Legal Zoom or Blumberg Excelsior or find a Law Firm in the Legal section via Invest Southwest Resources.
Protect Your Idea (Product)—Intellectual property protection, copyright, patent. A patent is granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in exchange for public disclosure of the invention. It provides a limited duration property right relating to an invention. A copyright protects works of authorship such as writing and music, and works of art. Check out the USPTO for information and to file.
Protect Your Brand (Company)—Trademark. A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies the brand or company and differentiate goods or service of that company from those of others (while a service mark distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods, the term “trademark” is often used in reference to both trademark and service mark). It is a badge of origin and is also referred to as the mark, brand, or logo. You can get help creating a logo via online services like Fiverr or Logo Design Arizona.
Protect Your Plan/Method (Trade Secrets)—Non Disclosure. A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) can be important for the startup entrepreneur. It can protect your confidential ideas such as marketing plan, exit strategy, etc. from being taken and used by other parties. While it won’t actually stop the disclosure of confidential information, it will help guard against a leak by threatening legal action. Just don’t ask a VC, Angel, or Investor to sign your NDA. Once you get to this level, you will need to trust and open up to mentoring and financial opportunity. You can find a form via Rocket Lawyer or ask your lawyer to draft one specific to your needs.
Safeguard your self, your idea, your mark and your methods from the start. Protect your startup.