We’ve all heard the crowdfunding success stories from Pozible, Kickstarter and a plethora of other platforms.

But with reward comes risk. Budding business owners must take steps to protect their IP before pushing the button on a crowd funding campaign. Failure to do so may result in a loss of IP rights or worse, litigation.

For those who might be considering raising cash via a crowdfunding campaign, here are five things to consider before you launch.

  1. Determine what type of IP (copyright, trade mark, design, patents, confidential information) is associated with your project.
  2. Undertake your due diligence. Is your project infringing a third party’s IP rights? For example, are you using a trade mark that is the same as or similar to someone else’s trade mark? Are you using a third party’s pictures, drawings or copy? Is your product infringing on a third party’s patent?
  3. Don’t disclose. If your project involves an invention or a design do not disclose it to the public before filing a patent or design application (or at least obtaining professional advice about patents and designs). Public disclosure at the wrong time may destroy your ability to obtain patent or design protection.
  4. Formulate a long-term IP strategy. What type of IP protection do you need? In what jurisdictions? When should you file applications?
  5. Protect your trade mark. If you have chosen a new trade mark, file a trade mark application. Failure to do so may result in a third party filing an application for your mark.

These five steps apply not only to those seeking investment through crowdfunding, but to any entrepreneur or business owner seeking to launch a new product or business.