Incorporating Your Venture

with Augie Rakow

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Patents, copyright, and trademarks

Augie Rakow

Startup Attorney, Advisor, History Buff

Lessons Learned

The three most important IP’s to think about for startups are patents, copyrights, and trademarks.

Do not overthink your IP. You can spend a lot of time and money on this.

It is easier to register a trademark after you have been using it for a while. No need to rush.


Lesson: Incorporating Your Venture with Augie Rakow

Step #10 IP: Patents, copyright, and trademarks

Augie: The three really key parts of IP are patents, copyrights, and trademarks. There's other stuff too, but for startups there's patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Patents are super expensive, it'll cost you about 20 to $30,000 to get a patent, just keep that in mind. They're very expensive.

Copyrights are very cheap. The moment you put text on a page you have a copyright in it. You can register it with the copyright office for 35 dollars. Copyrights are very cheap. They're very different from patents. They do very different things.

Trademarks also, there are rights that you get just from using a trademark, but you can also register them. They are not as expensive as patents.

Don't overthink the IP is what I really want to say. You can spend a lot of time and you can spend a lot of money overthinking the IP.

Man: Can you get a preliminary patent?

Augie: You can. Get the Nolo book, Nolo Publishing on everything you need to know about patenting. If you're an inventor and you're going to be creating lots of different inventions and this is a career you're considering, then I would take the time to learn about how the patent system works. If it's kind of a one-off idea like, "I think nobody else has done this. We're doing this. It's kind of cool," it probably doesn't make sense to get a patent at that point.

Trademarks, I think if you have a nifty name for your company, it's pretty cool, see if you keep using it for six months. A lot of early stage companies are in flux. Don't spend a lot of time thinking about how to register your trademark and everything when you just thought of it yesterday. The easier way to register a trademark is after you've been using it in commerce for a while. If it's just an idea and it's on your laptop that doesn't count. You have to be using it in commerce.

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