For most, the topic of intellectual property (IP) is a hot mess of “I-don’t-knows” conflated with “I-don’t-cares.” But it shouldn’t be. Knowing what IP is and how to protect it is fundamental to most businesses’ success, whether they know it or not. A common trap related to this attitude is to “trip over dollars to pick up dimes.” Especially for startups – for whom “keeping the lights on” trumps “protecting my IP” by several orders of magnitude on their wish-lists – this trap is almost universal.
Google owns most the online-search market and, along with Amazon, a very sizable portion of the online retail market. But neither Google nor Amazon started as the megalithic giants they are today: They both grew very rapidly because they held a competitive edge in markets they helped create.
The following is a brief summary of the most important issues involved with protecting your copyrights when dealing with the government – specifically the Department of Defense (DoD) – either as a prime or subcontractor.
We’re often asked, “Why should I get a patent? Patents cost so much and by the time I get the patent, technology has probably moved on?” It’s a valid question. But there’s a great answer to it: You gain an asymmetric advantage in the marketplace, and you keep that advantage for the life of your patent – the better part of two decades – whether technology moves on or not.
The Dream Scenario . . .Your small business bid to provide software or technical data was just picked up by a prime contractor (“Big Prime”) on a government contract. You are confident that your intellectual property (“IP”) will lead to wealth and the growth of your company. So you proceed to put pen to paper on a lucrative contract with the government.