I was recently sitting at a hotel bar and overheard a circle of businessmen talking at a nearby table. I couldn’t help listening in. What I heard spaced over about an hour was strangely familiar:
- I thought I was going to get rich when I put my new patented invention on the market. Why isn’t it happening?
- It seemed like a good idea to copy my competitor’s layout. Why am I being sued now?
- I wrote some code like what I need now at my former employer’s business. I think I will check my old laptop and use it again.
- Let’s put our daughter and son’s names together and use that as our trademark. I’m sure “Mercedes-Ben’s” will stand out in the marketplace.
- There’s no point in checking name registers in the United States; we’re never going to sell product in the U.S.
- Mike is our key man in sales. I’m sure if he invents an improvement to our product that this will belong to the company.
All of these famous last words share one thing in common: they were spoken by persons who were uninformed and didn’t make the effort to become informed.
There’s a new year coming, and we have time to pause and reflect about the major decisions that we may have to make in the coming year. This might be a good time to adopt a policy of thinking ahead on how things might go wrong, particularly in respect of your intellectual property, or IP, issues. Here’s what I’d like to hear:
“Yes, that’s what I think we’re going to do in the New Year: take the time to check it out with a professional in the field and think through the long-term consequences of what we’re doing. Hopefully, this will stop us from stepping into an IP cow patty! Maybe we should assign Chuck to get educated in this area.”
Now that’s a good way to start the New Year!
David French is the principal and CEO of Second Counsel Services, which provides guidance for companies that wish to improve their management of Intellectual Property. For more information visit www.SecondCounsel.com.
Image: Business Chic