Startup companies often have to protect their intellectual property (IP) on a budget. Here are some fundamental legal protections all startups should have:
- Employee Agreements. All employees should sign non-disclosure agreements obligating them to keep the company’s information confidential. In addition, all employees. Most venture capitalists will require prior invention assignment agreements (PIAAs) from all key employees prior to investing in the business. Forms for this are available in our free Starter Kit.
- Consulting Agreements. Sets the terms of consulting relationship and obligates the consultant to protect the confidentiality of the company’s information. This agreement generally will also obligate consultants to confirm their consulting relationship (understanding that this may not control if the relationship is substantially that of an employee); care should be taken in properly categorizing employees vs. independent contractors. Forms for this are available in our free Starter Kit.
- Nondisclosure Agreements. Before providing or accepting confidential information from others, you should enter into a simple confidentiality agreement to make sure that the information will be kept confidential. Forms for this are available in our free Starter Kit. Internally, a company should restrict access to confidential information to those with a need to have it.
- Company Name. Run name searches to check the availability of the company name in the state of incorporation and other states where the company will do business. Run a trademark search on the name and reserve the appropriate domain names.
- Educate. Management should educate employees on the need for IP protection and encourage disclosure of any significant IP developments.