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Your IP is Your Startup's Greatest Asset, Here is How To Protect It


For countless companies, intellectual property (IP) is one of their greatest assets. As with any valuable company asset, it is imperative to take measures to vigorously protect a company's IP. Fortunately, this is something that can be accomplished in various ways, and technology, in particular, should play a vital role. Utilizing a virtual data room (VDR) is one simple, affordable way to safeguard IP. And, with the right data room solution, built-in security features can provide an additional layer of security. An excellent example of this sort of security feature involves the use of watermarking. Adding a watermark to company documents helps protect it in the following ways:


Obviously, uploading documents into a secure VDR ensures that they are stored safely. But, there are times that folks outside of the company may need to review certain pieces of data and thus must be granted access to the VDR. In these instances, it is important to ensure that it is clear that the documents and the data contained therein, especially any IP-related items that will be shared, belong to the company. Of course, watermarking a document makes the identity of that document's creator clear to the individuals who are viewing the item.


Watermarking does more than simply identify where the document came from, as it can also be construed as an assertion of ownership. When it comes to IP, it is absolutely crucial to ensure that there is no question with respect to who owns the particular information. In far too many instances, disputes over IP arise due to lack of clarity on this issue. External consultants may collaborate with company personnel to develop IP or reference it for other reasons, so ownership must be established from the outset, and watermarking is a simple way to do this.


Watermarking can also serve as a deterrent to others who may have considered trying to pass off your company’s IP as their own. For one thing, a digitally created watermark would be virtually impossible to remove, but it also indicates to others that a company takes its IP seriously. In addition to offering watermarking for data protection, a security-oriented VDR should encrypt data to prevent it from being intercepted or copied and disable printing to ensure that the data remains safely saved in the cloud. This combination of watermarking, encryption, and dissemination prevention will ensure maximum protection for IP. 


In the unfortunate event that someone tries to misappropriate and/or misuse your company’s IP and legal recourse becomes necessary, watermarking will serve as excellent evidence of its rightful owner. The adjudicating party, whether judge or arbitrator, will likely examine the actions a company took, or failed to take, to help determine to whom any disputed IP belongs and whether it was maliciously misappropriated or perhaps there was merely a misunderstanding. In the end, utilizing a watermark may help avoid such confusion and hopefully prevent the need for even seeking legal recourse in the first place, but if not, at least it offers another method of protection.

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