Sunday, September 19, 2010

USAToday says: Watch out for copycats

USA Today goes to David Kappos:

The first line of defense, Kappos says, is a patent.

"If you have a great idea, you've got to protect it," he says. "If you don't protect (your ideas), it's very easy for others to legitimately take them."

The filing charge per patent is about $1,000, but individuals and small businesses are able to get a 50% discount, Kappos says. His other advice is a bit more costly to follow: He suggests that firms hire legal help with the patent filing. The fees can be stiff: "in the ballpark of $5,000 to $10,000," he says. But "It's just like preparing a will or contract or leases. Sure, you can do them yourself, but it really is better to get an attorney, if you can."

Yet, investing in patent protection doesn't mean a company can become complacent. Firms should monitor for patent infringements and be ready to dole out cease-and-desist letters, as well as lawsuits.

And even if a company secures a patent, there is always a chance that competitors can legitimately tweak a product idea then sell their own version.


Kappos' advice is that all innovative firms ask others to sign non-disclosure agreements before spilling any information. "(NDAs) are very common, and people don't react negatively to them," he says.


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