Protecting Your Intellectual Property in Collaborations
Solopreneurs and small business owners have to wear many hats, keep a lot of plates spinning, juggle a bunch of balls in the air. No matter which metaphor you use, entrepreneurs do so many things to grow and sustain their companies.
Collaborations with other businesses are a great way to share some of the burden. But protecting your intellectual property in these joint ventures is critical.
Angie Avard Turner Law, LLC is here to help you cover your legal bases in any negotiation or collaboration. Guarding your hard work and IP is our job. Reserve your time to talk about your legal needs or consider one of our Law Lab subscription services to get started.
Collaboration Can Boost Your Business
Working with a wide variety of people is an inherent part of owning a business, and pursuing strategic collaborations can be highly valuable. From social media giveaways to financial partnerships, there are many ways that collaboration can grow your company.
With the explosion of social media traffic and platforms, online collaborations are very popular. By combining efforts and audiences with the right businesses, you can grow your reach and engagement.
Giveaways and takeovers are two common types of social media marketing collaborations that allow businesses to get in front of new potential customers. By joining forces with companies that complement yours, you both can enjoy the benefits of greater reach.
Co-hosting events such as webinars, retreats, or workshops is another way to share the marketing efforts required to sustain a business. As with social media collaborations, these events can open you up to a new audience and allow you to promote your business differently.
Do you have a new product or service you’d like to offer but aren’t ready to do it on your own? Collaborating with the right expert to get a new idea off the ground can make it much simpler and less intimidating. By sharing knowledge and experience, you can get something to market much more quickly.
Almost every small business needs funding at some point. Whether through credit cards, family members, or bank loans, access to capital is crucial. Financial collaborations often include one person who does most or all of the work while the other provides the dollars. When handled correctly, these connections can contribute significantly to a company’s success.
Protecting Your Intellectual Property when Collaborating
As powerful as collaborations can be, they also carry tremendous risk to your IP if not done carefully. Your ideas, designs, and products need protection at all times but especially when you enter into a partnership or collaboration.
It’s essential to have contracts and agreements in place before there is any sharing of information or access to your intellectual property. Because what do I always remind you? If it’s worth creating, it’s worth protecting. I will never NOT preach this because it’s too important.
So, how do you protect your IP when collaborating? Here are the most critical steps to take.
1. Have a signed agreement outlining rights and responsibilities.
Solopreneurs often find fellow solopreneurs and decide to do a fun collab, often over social media. Even something as simple as an Instagram giveaway should have the protection of a signed agreement.
You will protect yourself by having a document in place to outline and clarify all of the following things that apply:
What product or service each party needs to supply
The timeline each party must follow
Who will cover any incurred costs
Who is responsible for promoting the event
How to handle any proceeds from the collaboration
2. Have a comprehensive non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
When you partner or collaborate with another individual or business, it’s likely that you will need to share some valuable information about your products, services, clients, or processes. If you do this without an NDA in place, you are at risk of compromising your intellectual property.
Non-disclosure agreements protect your IP by placing legal parameters around what the other party can or cannot share about your work. A mutual NDA also outlines what you can or cannot disclose about their work so that you don’t create a problem for yourself.
No collaboration is worth compromising your intellectual property or liability, so be sure an NDA is in place before sharing any valuable information.
3. Have a clear contract covering financial obligations.
Y’all, money can make people act crazy! Do yourself an enormous favor by ensuring that any collaborative financial agreement is in writing and signed by all parties. Your finances are too crucial to rely on a handshake and a promise.
Whether you’re joining financial forces with your uncle, your best friend, or a stranger, you must protect yourself with a contract. Any financial collaboration requires a legal agreement that outlines amounts and repayment terms.
4. Have legal representation.
Protecting your intellectual property demands vigilance and expertise. Give yourself all the protection possible by working with an attorney who understands and specializes in IP law. The legal arena isn’t the place to DIY your work unless you’re an attorney. And honestly, even lawyers seek the help of other lawyers since there are so many specialties.
By choosing an attorney to work with as you enter collaborations and partnerships, you help guard your IP, money, effort, and reputation - all the things you’ve worked so hard to create.
I think of it kind of like exercising and getting fit. It takes a lot of time and hard work to get your body looking and feeling the way you want, but it seems like it takes no time at all for that fitness to disappear again. This is how your business could end up if you don’t take the proper steps to protect it adequately.
Establishing a relationship with a lawyer you like and trust will serve you and your business well for years to come. If you don’t yet have representation, I’d love to connect with you about how I can serve you and your company. Reserve a time to talk with me about your legal needs to get started.