Running a startup is exciting, varied and unbelievably busy.

You're working on your first product. The concepts are there but the execution's still in progress. You've enough capital to keep your fledgling business going for months not years. It's all hands on deck to push forward to launch because the pressure's on to begin generating revenue. You know at the back of your mind you ought to give some resource to protecting the investment. But you're not sure where to start.

For many people in this situation, their first thought is to file a patent application for something. For anything.

But, as this article suggests, before you do that, you'd be wise to devote some resource to being a little more strategic about where you're heading. After all, the goal isn't merely to tick the box beside the word patent. It's to work out a strategy that will govern how you protect your broad interests in the short, medium and long term.

That's an investment worth making.

The most valuable IP tool for a startup or for any company is an IP roadmap. But who would start a journey without a destination and a roadmap clearly in mind? If our goal were to get to Cleveland — hey, it’s on my bucket list — we would never think of traveling there by randomly visiting other cities, one perhaps leading to another. Similarly, if a company’s IP ‘strategy’ is merely to collect patents randomly, then at any point in time all the company will ever own is a box full of random patents. To build a true monopoly and to protect the unique experience that keeps customers engaged, it’s essential to start with an IP monopoly roadmap of where you are going and a strategy of how you will get there.