7 Persistent Myths About Intellectual Property


Posting a copyrighted photo on a blog cost a small public relations company thousands of dollars, even though the photo wasn’t labeled with a copyright notice.

Labeling products with a patent number that didn’t match the exact model meant a construction-stilts manufacturer must pay large fines.

And a loophole in the intellectual property clause of an employee contract created nearly a decade of court battles and cost Mattel the Bratz doll empire.

These are just a few examples that show how common intellectual property mistakes can be extremely costly for companies of any size. For entrepreneurs, one intellectual property error could devastate a budding company. Here are seven of the most prevalent myths surrounding intellectual property and how misconceptions could hurt your company.  

Myth 1: Businesses automatically own all intellectual property created by employees and contractors. Many business owners mistakenly assume that when they hire an employee or a contractor, they as a matter of course own full rights to their work. But unless the employee or vendor contract explicitly states that the company owns the rights to any intellectual property created by the employee or contractor, entrepreneurs may be surprised to find that they have limited or no rights to the work.

Myth 2:  A patent grants worldwide protection. Obtaining a patent from the U.S. Patent Office generally protects only the patent within the U.S. Company managers who want to conduct business abroad have to file for a patent in each country in which they want to operate and must comply with each country’s unique patent laws.

Myth 3:  If it sounds "official,” it probably is. Scammers often prey on entrepreneurs’ desire to protect intellectual property. Common scams include emails that say the company needs to pay a fee to protect its trademark or domain name, or contain bogus invoices for protection services. Because the emails come from organizations that sound official and include specific information about the business, many owners pay the fees without question.  

Myth 4:  If it doesn’t have a copyright symbol, anyone can use it. Traditionally, any creative work that did not have a copyright notice or © symbol on it was free for public use. The law changed several decades ago so that copyrighted materials are protected with or without a copyright label. But many people think the old rules still apply, especially when it comes to material on the internet. Business owners should assume any material found on the internet has a copyright and seek permission from the owner for its use.

Myth 5: Trade secrets provide easy catch-all protection. Many owners of young businesses mistakenly think any information not covered by a copyright or patent can easily be protected as a trade secret. But trade secret protection can be difficult to enforce in court, and companies have to prove all of the following:

(a) The information gives the company a competitive advantage by virtue of being unknown.

(b) The company took reasonable measures to protect the information.

(c) The information is not generally known to the public or competitors.

Myth 6: Markings don’t matter. Some business people misuse intellectual property markings, either by using them too much or too little. For example, marking a patent number on items that don’t bear the exact patented design can result in fines of as much as $500 for each mislabeled item. On the other hand, failing to use trademark markings such as ™ and ® can lead to a brand name becoming a generic term that has no trademark protection, as occurred with formerly trademarked terms such as aspirin, zipper and thermos.

Myth 7:  I can wait to figure out my intellectual-property strategy. Companies have no time to waste in creating an intellectual property strategy, especially when it comes to patents. Last year the U.S. patent system changed from a “first to invent” system to a “first to file” system, meaning that patents are now awarded based on who files the application first, not who thought of the idea first.

Intellectual property matters leave little room for error, and a smart strategy concerning this should be a top priority for every entrepreneur. Every new business owner should have a trusted intellectual property consultant to help dispel the myths and build a sound strategy to best protect the company.

Great work by Anna Vitale!

Big kudos to Senior Engagement Manager, Anna Vitale for two WONDERFUL notes from happy clients -- one being an Academy Award winning screenwriter! GREAT work Anna!

"We brought our nascent business idea to Growthink. Anna Vitale was our point person. Growthink not only helped us organize and articulate the ideas we already had, they burrowed into our concept heart and soul, were a font of research and ideas, and helped us expand our idea into a more exciting and dynamic plan than we'd originally imagined. Anna is smart, organized, hard working and something you rarely find in any profession: a perfectionist. By the time Growthink's work was complete, Anna had spent untold hours revising, refining, and honing our business plan into a document we can present with confidence and pride.  I highly recommend Growthink and Anna."

Tom Schulman 


Followed by:

Anna,

Back in November when we stepped into the Growthink office for the first time, we were four industry people who had a vision for a new company but no real blueprint to share with the business world.

On behalf of Chris, Rick and Tom, “Thank you, for your time, effort, consideration and attention to detail as we got started, seeing us through the holidays and making sure our final product reflects not only who we are but the work Growthink is committed to putting out in the world.”

While it took a bit longer and a few more hours and people than we all expected, we are happy with our final version and will be taking it out into meetings in the coming weeks.

Please pass our comments along to your colleagues and remind them on our behalf of your professionalism and your commitment to exceeding our expectations of excellent customer service.

In gratitude,
Boise Thomas
The RPL Effect Team

How to Make Your Management Consultant Feel Good

Today Jonah Moore and I moderated a strategic planning session for 27 executives of Mahar Tool Company at a retreat center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  At the end of the day, Mahar President Mike Kovaleski gave Jonah and I gave us signed copies of Ari Weinzweig's book (famed founder of Zingermans) - "Being a Better Leader" and inscribed both copies for us with personal thank you notes for Jonah and me from the company's executive team.  A real keep sake. 

See below.  

Small Business Loan Wisdoms from Kabbage

Top 5 Small Business Loan Requirements

Congratulations, you’ve decided to launch your own venture, and now you’re curious about the small business loan requirements. While there are many choices and options when it comes to funding your dream, there are important requirements you need to have in place before any lender will consider your small business loan request. Here are the Top 5 small business loan requirements. 

 

Small Business Loan Requirement #1: Make Sure You Have Impeccable Credit
One of the most important, if not the most important small business loan requirement is ensuring your credit is excellent. Maybe not flawless – but it needs to be in really good shape. The key is preparation! Do your research ahead of time. Do you know your FICO score? Your FICO score is a summary of your credit risk which lenders use to assess things such as whether or not to extend credit and if so, at what interest rate. You can identify your credit risk and find out your FICO score by employing free online tools such as the one at www.fico.com.

When meeting with potential lenders, come prepared to show not only your business credit history but your personal credit history as well. Got credit card debt? A few late car payments? Student loans in default? These kinds of things will delay if not halt your small business loan process. Excellent credit is a fundamental aspect of small business loan requirements. Work aggressively to clean up your credit, fix any credit reporting errors (*Note: credit reporting errors do occur. Take time to read your credit reports thoroughly to ensure accuracy. Report any discrepancies immediately).

These factors are key for any lender when they are considering your ability to repay small business loans. Having stellar credit is an essential piece of the lending puzzle. It’s a snapshot of your financial performance – both as a small business owner and as an individual. The bottom line? Know your credit scores, fix any errors, work to improve your credit scores if possible (even if it means delaying your small business loan application process), and come prepared.

 

Small Business Loan Requirement #2: Have a Solid Business Plan
Any lender worth their salt will tell you that a well thought out and thorough business plan is a requirement of small business loans. A business plan is basically a profile of your business. It provides a detailed explanation of what your business is, how it fills a niche, the products or services you’re providing, etc. Essentially, it gives the lender a clear picture of what your small business is all about.

There are online resources to help you write a business plan if it’s not something you’ve done before, but overall, a business plan serves as a “blueprint” for your small business.

A good business plan includes:

  • A detailed description of the product or service you’re offering
  • An explanation of how your product is unique in the market
  • A description of how your business is fulfilling a need
  • A list of tactics and objectives for the goals you’ve identified for your business (i.e. you know where you want to go, but how will you get there?)
  • And perhaps most important, your business plan should show projected revenue


Each of these components provides lenders with a good snapshot of the potential success of your business. Your business plan should be also be a fact-based projection over the next three to five years or so of the expectations for revenue and growth you have for your small business.

Lenders use the information you provide in your business plan to project the success or failure of your business and to determine the worth of your business as it relates to securing a small business loan.

Don’t over think it! Your business plan doesn’t have to be a 12-page dissertation on the history of goods and services. It needs to be clearly stated, in plain English, with tactics and objectives clearly outlined.

There are plenty of free business plan templates and tutorials available online, including one at sba.gov. A solid business plan will serve you well as a tool for day to day reference in your business, and it is a main ingredient in the requirements for small business loans.

Small Business Loan Requirement #3: A Strong and Compelling Personal Resume
A personal resume might seem a bit odd to list as a requirement for small business loans, but it’s an important tool. Potential lenders want to see your work history. They want to know what level of expertise you bring to the table. You aren’t interviewing for a job here, but you are demonstrating that your combined talents and professional expertise have set the foundation for success as a small business owner. Appearances are everything. The more professional you appear on a resume, the more likely a lender will be to consider your small business loan application. 

As with business plans, there are countless free resources online to help you begin, update or polish your professional resume. As one of the significant small business loan requirements, spending a few dollars to ensure you’re painting the best picture possible of your professional accomplishments is money well spent.

            #3a: What’s Not On Your Resume…And Why It’s Important

We said “Top FIVE Requirements for Small Business Loans”, but there are some additional things we want you to be aware of regarding resumes and small business loan requirements.

A good resume speaks to your professional and personal accomplishments, the goals you’ve met and exceeded, the results you’ve achieved, the accolades or awards you’ve earned. It does not, however, indicate whether you’re male or female. Or if you’re a veteran. A person with disabilities. Or someone with social or economic disadvantages. All of these factors are important to convey because not only are there lending laws preventing discrimination of any kind, but there are also specific loans geared toward groups of people who in the past may have been discriminated against unlawfully. Specifically – women, minorities, veterans, businesses in rural areas and those business owners with certain disabilities.

Don’t consider these factors as weaknesses! Rather, you would do well to leverage the opportunities that now exist through fair lending laws to ensure you receive the greatest possible consideration for your small business loans.

In addition to a personal resume, this would be a good time to reach out to professional colleagues, friends and family who may be able to vouch for you. References are definitely one of the most important small business loan requirements – and they’re something that could make or break you. Review your list of vendors and clients. Is there anyone or any business with whom you’ve had trouble? Hopefully, you’ll have a good list of business and personal references that can be provided to lenders as they review your small business loan application.
 

Small Business Loan Requirement #4:  Bulletproof P&L Statements
If you’re not familiar with a basic profit and loss statement or a balance sheet, you may want to do some additional research online. You’ll need to make sure you have both your personal and business financial statements in order and bulletproof – meaning the level of integrity in your reporting is accurate and ethical. It is one of the best indicators as to how your business is doing in the real world and it’s one of the main things lenders consider when reviewing small business loan requirements.

Note: This is different from your credit rating. In simple terms, your P&L sheets represent the revenue you have coming in and the expenses you have going out. The difference between the two – along with other factors such as fixed costs - helps you determine your profit margin.

If your profit margin is relatively small, you may want to consider applying for a microloan. Microloans, such as those offered by the Small Business Administration, provide up to $50,000 to small business owners to help with business-related costs such as start up, inventory replenishment, and business expansion, to name just a few.

While these microloans are beneficial to small business owners, the time it takes to apply for the loan, process the application and wait for a decision can be cumbersome. Most small business owners need the cash quickly to expand their business, obtain working capital, purchase additional inventory or supplies, etc. A quicker alternative to traditional microloans is Kabbage’s short term, merchant cash advance loan called “Kabbage Kash.” It’s a seamless way to get funds quickly and easily and while similar to the SBA’s microloans – Kabbage offers a much faster turnaround time.

Note: Having some form of collateral – something against which you can base the loan application – is important (although not always required) for most lenders. Keep in mind that although your business idea and plan may sound great, without some kind of collateral to put up front, some lenders may be reluctant to offer loans.
 

Small Business Loan Requirement #5: Develop a Comprehensive, Strategic Marketing Plan 
One of the most overlooked requirements for small business loans is the development of a strategic marketing plan with vision toward the next two to three years, at least. Having the necessary capital to start up, re-launch, or expand your business is crucial, but lenders also need to see your plan for how you will successfully promote your business.

Years ago, a simple marketing strategy of direct mail, print ads, radio spots and possible television commercials would do the trick. Unfortunately, many of these tactics require a significant amount of advertising money upfront – funds that could be directly applied in your business to build inventory, expand product offerings, etc. Also, with newspaper and magazine readership at all time lows, who is really going to see your well-placed, highly priced, quarter page ad? The Internet has changed everything – and one thing it’s really changed is the way businesses advertise.

Social media has become one of the most effective and efficient means of advertising whether it’s business to business or business to consumer. By leveraging the powerful reach of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, email marketing, LinkedIn and/or blogging, you’ll be able to reduce your overall marketing costs and increase your reach to your target audience. Make no mistake, you’ll still need funds for marketing, but the amount is significantly less than in years past. And in the long run, a solid marketing plan based on “new” media tactics will leave you more funds to directly invest in your small business.
 

Final Thoughts
According to the latest US Bureau of Labor and Statistics research, there are approximately 28 million small businesses in the United States. Some succeed and some fail. It really all depends on your dedication, commitment, preparedness and your ability to meet the small business loan requirements most lenders call for.

Traditional lenders of small business loans include the brick and mortar bank buildings you can see on virtually every street corner in America. In fact, when you think about small business loans, personal banking, mortgages and the like, banks are usually the first things that come to mind. But don’t disregard the alternative lenders, such as Kabbage, as well. There are many lenders to choose from, but they are all there to help small businesses – just like yours – to grow and be successful.

All lenders – whether traditional brick and mortar or alternative lenders such as Kabbage – will be looking at three things when reviewing their requirements for small business loans:

  1. Your ability to repay loans
  2. Whether you are strong enough to withstand tough economic times, as evidenced over the last decade or so.
  3. And, they want to see your passion and commitment to making your small business succeed.

The final decision lies with you. It’s your business. Do your research! Know your facts. Put your best foot forward and make sure you’ve met these small business loan requirements.
 

Remember these 5 Requirements for Small Business Loans

  1. Be sure you have impeccable credit
  2. Have a solid business plan
  3. Create a strong and compelling resume (and leverage what’s not on your resume to maximize your loan potential)
  4. Bulletproof P&L statements
  5. Develop a comprehensive, strategic marketing plan


Source link: https://www.kabbage.com/guides/top-5-small-business-loan-requirements

Great work by Bridget Quinlan and Marci Haire of Growthink's Expert Market Research Team!

Awesome client testimonial for work done by Growthinkers Bridget Quinlan and Marci Haire! Great job!

"Thanks Bridget! 

Yes: you have made me a happy man indeed. 
This is my first time writing a business plan. I've found the process extremely educational. 
so glad we went in for another round with the global figures..... Paints a beautiful picture for my investors. 
Look forward to spreading the word about your company. 

Best,
John"

Bridget QuinlanMarci Glasgow-Haire

Wisdom from the Best CEOs - How to Use Time Better

70% of Time Could Be Used Better - How the Best CEOs Get the Most Out of Every Day

Author: Bill Trenchard 

"The average tech CEO works about 300 days a year, 14 hours a day. That’s 4,200 hours a year. The stats for most other tech leaders and startup employees aren’t too far off. It sounds like a lot of time, but for most, it’s not enough. Nearly 30% of that time gets sunk into email. Another third gets spent in meetings — and studies show that half of those hours are completely wasted.

Looking at the schedule of a typical CEO, a full 70% of that time is sub-optimal, and I’ll back that up with my own experience. Prior to joining First Round as a partner, I served as Co-Founder and CEO for three companies, including LiveOps. Today, I meet with dozens of founders every week, helping them grow their teams and get more productivity out of themselves and the people they work with. They know they should be using every hour to move their companies forward, create great products, close deals and hire the best candidates. Many just can’t find the time. So, how do we get better?

This year, I spent several weeks leading up to our annual CEO Summit catching up with people I know who do a superhuman job at managing their time. My goal was to capture the tools, tips and hacks they use to make every work hour count. Below, I share eight strategies that have worked for them and for me, so we can all stop wasting time and missing out on opportunities."


1. SAY NO. 

2. BE AN EMAIL NINJA. 

3. MANAGE YOUR ENERGY.

4. BUILD PLAYBOOKS.

5. GET GREAT AT EXTERNAL MEETINGS. 

6. GET GREAT AT INTERNAL MEETINGS.

7. LEVERAGE ASSISTANTS.

8. GIVE YOUR TEAM LEVERAGE.

"If you implement these simple hacks, you can get that 70% of time you aren't maximizing back. You can spend less time in meetings and your inbox. Most importantly, you can get back to leading, inspiring, closing deals and changing the world."


For the full article click here.