Top 3 Intellectual Property Mistakes Made By Small Businesses

St. Louis Small Business Monthly
August 30, 2021 Publications

Launching a new business can be a scary task for even the most passionate entrepreneur. As can be maintaining a growing team and operations for more established small and family owned businesses. Both the hours and the to-do lists are long and arduous. Some mistakes are bound to happen. One of the most common mistakes small businesses make is failing to recognize the importance of intellectual property (IP) to the success of the company. Here are some of the most frequent missteps that small business make, and how they can be avoided.

Lack of Overall IP Strategy

Companies often have detailed business, marketing and funding plans, but may not develop an IP strategy to protect arguably the most valuable aspect of their business. A solid IP strategy should include a listing of assets the business currently has, a plan for when and how to protect those assets, and a plan for how to protect the business in IP litigation.

One action that is often overlooked by small businesses is to research their existing competition. Research isn’t just critical to discovering similar technology or offerings already available to the public when trying to protect your own IP, but it is crucial for a small business to be confident they are not infringing upon another’s IP rights. An IP attorney can conduct clearance searches or advise a business on potential infringement issues.

DIY Approach to IP

Most small businesses are cost conscience, especially at the outset. It can be tempting for these businesses to perform their own research, however, fortifying these rights requires appropriate guidance from a qualified IP professional. General knowledge of IP may point a business owner in the right direction, but it won’t be able to answer the detailed questions of their specific business or exactly what aspects can be protected under the law.

A consultation with an IP attorney assists in laying the foundation of any IP rights the business will seek to secure, and will arm the business with the knowledge they need to establish an IP strategy.

Improper Documentation

Often the key to getting a small business off the ground can be finding the right investors and the highest quality suppliers. However, identifying such vendors may require disclosing certain features of a product, which can be fatal to IP rights. When meeting with third parties, it is essential that a proper non-disclosure agreement (NDA) be in place to protect a business’s IP rights.
Other concerns include having employment contracts with terms that obligate the employee to keep confidential the proprietary information of the business, both during and after employment. Additionally, proper employee assignment documents should be used to transfer the IP rights from the employee to the business itself.

Standard NDA, employment and assignment forms are a good starting point, but companies should seek the assistance of an IP attorney to tailor these documents to the specific business.

Being proactive and meeting with a qualified IP attorney to determine a business’s IP assets and develop a plan of action is essential. In so doing, a business can gain significant value from the IP assets it creates and can protect itself from potential exposure to third-party infringement. It is a worthwhile expenditure to retain IP counsel to ensure you are taking appropriate action at the appropriate time. The success of your business depends on it.


Contact Us
  • Worldwide
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Denver, CO
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Edwardsville, IL
  • Jefferson City, MO
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • London, England
  • Miami, FL
  • New York, NY
  • Orange County, CA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Princeton, NJ
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Wilmington, DE
abstract image of world map
Boston, MA
800 Boylston St.
30th Floor
Boston, MA 02199
Google Maps
Boston, Massachusetts
Chicago, IL
100 North Riverside Plaza
Suite 1500
Chicago, IL 60606-1520
Google Maps
Chicago, Illinois
Denver, CO
4643 S. Ulster St.
Suite 800
Denver, CO 80237
Google Maps
Denver, Colorado
Dublin, Ireland
Fitzwilliam Hall, Fitzwilliam Place
Dublin 2, Ireland
Google Maps
Edwardsville, IL
115 N. Second St.
Edwardsville, IL 62025
Google Maps
Edwardsville, Illinois
Jefferson City, MO
101 E. High St.
First Floor
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Google Maps
Jefferson City, Missouri
Kansas City, MO
2345 Grand Blvd.
Suite 1500
Kansas City, MO 64108
Google Maps
Kansas City, Missouri
Las Vegas, NV
7160 Rafael Rivera Way
Suite 320
Las Vegas, NV 89113
Google Maps
Las Vegas, Nevada
London, England
Royal College of Surgeons of England
38-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
London, WC2A 3PE
Google Maps
Miami, FL
355 Alhambra Circle
Suite 1200
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Google Maps
Photo of Miami, Florida
New York, NY
7 Times Square, 44th Floor
New York, NY 10036
Google Maps
New York City skyline
Orange County, CA
19800 MacArthur Boulevard
Suite 300
Irvine, CA 92612
Google Maps
Philadelphia, PA
2005 Market Street
29th Floor, One Commerce Square
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Google Maps
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Princeton, NJ
100 Overlook Center
Second Floor
Princeton, NJ 08540
Google Maps
Princeton, New Jersey
Salt Lake City, UT
222 South Main St.
Suite 1830
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Google Maps
Salt Lake City, Utah
St. Louis, MO
7700 Forsyth Blvd.
Suite 1800
St. Louis, MO 63105
Google Maps
St. Louis, Missouri
Washington, D.C.
1717 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 400
Washington, DC 20006
Google Maps
Photo of Washington, D.C. with the Capitol in the foreground and Washington Monument in the background.
Wilmington, DE
1007 North Market Street
Wilmington, DE 19801
Google Maps
Wilmington, Delaware