Protecting your IP before launching a crowdfunding campaign
One of our clients, Audeara launched their first crowdfunding campaign for the world’s first full fidelity headphones on 1 March 2017. We are very pleased to see that Audeara’s crowdfunding campaign has been a runaway success and they reached 94% of its initial goal ($100,000) within the first 12 hours of the campaign.
At MBIP, we have been working with Audeara to make sure that Audeara’s IP rights were secured well before the campaign went live on Kickstarter.
Launching a crowdfunding campaign requires publicizing the idea on popular crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter. However, to secure valid Intellectual Property (IP) protection, it is vital to file a patent or design application before publicizing the product.
Crowdfunding is a relatively new way of raising capital for startups. However, the crowdfunding model has often struck fear into the hearts of many seasoned patent attorneys and intellectual property lawyers. The most important IP related issue with crowdfunding is that many startups can damage their IP position by publicizing details of their innovative product before filing any patent or design applications.
The main problem with publicly disclosing a new and innovative product on a crowdfunding platform or project is that such a disclosure may jeopardize patent and design rights in the proposed product. Worse still, because the product or invention has been publicly disclosed, it is difficult to protect the intellectual property – others will be free to copy the product or invention.
Audeara filed patent applications for protecting their headphones more than a year before launching their crowdfunding campaign, by contacting MBIP at a very early stage of developing their new headphones. Unlike some other entrepreneurs, who might compromise their intellectual property position by publicly disclosing their product before filing a patent application, Audeara have once again shown that filing a patent application well ahead of launching their crowdfunding campaign can be a very useful strategy.
A few years ago, our firm also assisted another Australian crowd-funding success story, Beeinventive, a company set up by two beekeepers from northern NSW. Beeinventive crowdfunded their innovative beehive via another crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. At first, they set out to raise $70,000 for a honey dispensing beehive product, but the campaign has since amassed over $12 million from over 36,000 contributors.
Audeara and Beeinventive are prime examples of how the IP system and the crowdfunding model can work hand in hand to assist Australian startups in raising capital during the early stages of commercialisation.