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.
Every small business should be aware of the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program of the Small Business Administration (SBA). Each year, various government agencies provide research grants for projects to solve technical problems facing that agency.
Obtaining a patent is complex and expensive. Moreover, the process has recently come under attack and court cases have caused startups to question the ROI of seeking patent protection for their innovations. But patents continue to be a vital, if not critical, phase of ensuring a startup’s success.
The U.S. government is highly dependent on Intellectual Property (IP), the vast majority of which sources from small and emerging companies. Average federal spending on IP tops $150 billion. But the rules for government-backed IP differ markedly from those in the commercial sector. And those rules are complex.
IP is for tech companies. Every company possesses Intellectual Property. A misconception exists that IP is only for tech companies such as Apple or Intel and IP is only about patents. Not true. 100% of companies possess IP. IP is not just about patents but also includes protecting a company’s brand, is creative work and trade secrets.
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.
When a company or individual sets out to protect their intellectual property, their first move is usually to consider copyrights, patents or trade secrets. While each of these forms of intellectual property protection is important, and to form a comprehensive strategy they must work in concert with each other.
Protecting intellectual property with patents, trademarks, and copyrights is a crucial component of successful companies. However, many individuals and companies fail to adequately safeguard their intellectual property from unlawful reproduction or outright theft, which can all too often spell the end of a dream and the destruction of a business.
The terms “competitive advantage” and “success” are closely related. Every company strives for a competitive advantage, even if they are not exactly sure what it is. All companies want to be the first to market, or to make a product faster, cheaper, or better than their competitors. If they can do that, they gain a “competitive advantage.”
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.