Bill Gates once claimed, “Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana.” That may be true, but he has made billions off the back of his bananas.

Protecting intellectual property (IP) is one of the key areas that new California businesses can get wrong. Getting it right at the start can save you costly legal battles. It can also spare you the heartache of watching someone else exploit the idea you hoped would let you retire at age 30 to an island full of coconut trees.

These are some things to consider when starting a business:

  • Check existing IP claims: First, you need to make sure your new startup idea is not infringing anyone else’s IP rights. You may be surprised how deep you need to investigate to ensure you can proceed with a clear conscience.
  • Consider your colleagues: If setting up your business with other people, consider what will happen if you fall out? How will you decide ownership of the IP if you separate? If you hire workers or seek the help of investors, do they need to sign non-disclosure agreements?
  • Create a long-term strategy: It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of starting, but you need to look ahead. Do you intend to create spin-off products? Do you plan to take your IP overseas?

Don’t wait until you have a problem to call a San Diego business attorney. Look upon them as someone who can stop you from getting into difficulties in the first place. While funds can be tight when starting a business, spending on legal advice now will allow you to sit back and reap the fruits of your labor later.