17 Seconds #55 – A Publication For Clients And Other VIPs Of Clocktower Law.
10. Tell stakeholders when you move.
Or get acquired, or go out of business, or shut down. Patents and trademarks need to be maintained and renewed every few years, so be sure to tell IP counsel when you move.
9. Steal ideas from others.
Ideas are a dime/dozen, execution is priceless. When I worked at Verio (1997-2001), I won the “thief award” multiple times for stealing and implementing best practices from other offices. Verio encouraged sharing – and implementing – the best ideas, and it ended up having a “double exit,” with both an IPO and an acquisition in 2000.
8. Get a co-founder.
There is a reason that top-tier accelerators such as Techstars invest in 2-person startups but not in 1-person startups. You need an idea founder and an execution founder. The single biggest thing holding back some startups is that they are a single person.
7. Get startup-friendly IP counsel early.
Clocktower’s startup clients have had 22 exits since 2001. Those that hire Clocktower within 3 months of founding are much more likely to have successful exits than those that wait longer than 3 months. It is much easier to prevent IP problems early on than it is to cure IP problems later.
6. Know the difference between investors and vendors.
One prospective client recently told Clocktower that they “don’t give equity to vendors.” Clocktower is not a vendor, never has been, never will be. Vendors are the folks in yellow shirts in Fenway Park who sell you peanuts, popcorn, and Cracker Jack during Red Sox games. Investors are the folks who give your startup money, either by writing checks, or giving your startup discounts off of professional services that it needs.
This is a complicated one. It is sometimes difficult for those who have experienced privilege in life to recognize and appreciate those who have not. For example, those who serve in the military allow others not to have to serve. Those who did not have to take out college loans have a built-in head-start compared to those that did borrow for college. I grew up poor in Maine, did have to serve in the military to pay for college, yet still consider myself privileged compared to others. For example, I always had a roof over my head, two parents, clothing, and food. Not to mention that I’m a white male. As such, I work hard to give back, by coaching Little League baseball, playing in a rock cover band that raises money for various charities, mentoring startups, and by donating my money and time to worthy causes and events, such as MassChallenge, Techstars, and Treehouse. Step back, consider how you got to where you are, have empathy, and give back.
4. Quit your day job.
It matters that you commit to your startup 100%. Just like you cannot be half pregnant, you cannot be half of an entrepreneur.
3. Get plants.
There will be times when you have done everything you can and you still have no customers. The key to success, as my mentor once told me, is not necessarily being in the right place at the right time. The key to success is being. There will be days when the only thing you have to do at the office is water the plants.
2. File trademarks before launching brands or websites.
It is much more expensive to cure trademark problems than it is to prevent them. As such, you should fully vet any new trademark (for a company name, logo, tagline, product name, service name) by searching the trademark and (if the search is favorable) filing a trademark application. And if you redesign your website without considering trademarks, then you may not be able to register pending trademark applications or renew existing registered trademarks. This is because trademark applications and registrations frequently rely on a specimen (proof of use) from your website.
1. File patents before launching products.
Since 2013, the U.S. has been a first-inventor-to-file jurisdiction (vs. the former first-to-invent system). Due to ambiguities in the poorly written and hastily enacted America Invents Act (AIA), the U.S. is also the functional equivalent of an “absolute novelty” jurisdiction. As such, you should file your patent application before you launch your product/service/improvement, where “launch” is defined as sale, offer for sale, publication, or public use. This is the only certain way to protect both U.S. and foreign patent rights.
Also, eat fewer carbs. Happy new year in advance!
17 Seconds is a publication for clients and other VIPs of Clocktower Law. Email version powered by MailChimp and the beat of a different keyboard player.