Calling all IP Nightmares (Part 2) – at SXSW

This series starts with Calling all IP Nightmares (Part 1), and will be continued into the future with more IP scary stories as we gather them… 



In an attempt to help people learn from the mistakes of others, we went to LAUNCH14 hoping to gather the scary Intellectual Property (IP) stories that others have personally experienced. We armed ourselves with an iPad, photo releases, and the following questions:

  1. What do you know about Intellectual Property?
  2. Do you know what it might be worth?
  3. Do you know how to identify & protect it?

But we were surprised when not one person wanted to go on record with their scary story. Instead, we gathered loads of anonymous tales, many of which we share with you today…

  • Brand new company launched on Sunday and filed patents on the Saturday exactly one day before and did not protect anything else – recognizes that there may be other items at risk and that that IP is valuable.
  • CTO who launched two years ago but did nothing to protect IP because they met with some lawyers and it was going to be too expensive. Now they are trying to sell the company and he hopes that the acquiror will take over the IP work that still needs to be done.
  • Software and websites being bought based on a handshake or email. Who owns what at the end is the issue.
  • Confusion regarding copyright and trademark was a popular topic at our booth but the bottom line was that many do not understand that these are very different and are not interchangeable!
  • Misunderstanding that open source code can be used without any issues, all the time – see “3 Tips to Avoid Intellectual Property Issues“. It’s so not true and you can actually render your code unsellable without replacing that code.

So why care? A large law firm M&A attorney stated that one in three clients show up for funding or exit without proper ownership to IP. Not owning your assets (and yes, IP is an asset, albeit an intangible one, but still an asset) can be a deal killer.

Do not work your butt off to start a company without identifying and protecting your IP first. Even if you cannot afford patents or trademark protection, at least figure out your strategy around your IP first and be educated.


I am at SXSW today and tomorrow, and although I am without Jill to help me collect more words of wisdom from business owners and entrepreneurs as we did at LAUNCH14, I do still have the iPad and anyone going on record with their IP mistake will receive a very soft Practice Safe Crowdfunding® t-shirt and a FREE ID your IP® set of reports.


Shhhh… more news on our new software very soon. Buy now to be automatically upgraded to the new version! P.S. please buy because Emily taught me how to do these CTA’s (calls to action) and I want them to work. 🙂

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