Join an Accelerator – and Lose Your Intellectual Property

Companies that join accelerators, incubators, coworking spaces, CEO roundtables, etc. are at a huge risk of losing their IP – just because they participate.

Most patent valuation analysts will remove 50% or more of the value of a company’s patent just because they were in an accelerator. Lose *half* of your most valuable asset – just because you join an accelerator?

BlueIronIP has a Proprietary Information and Inventions Agreement (aka the “Good Neighbor Agreement”) that addresses this issue in a kind, fair way for everyone involved.

The typical scenario starts with several companies working together. Each founder/employee/consultant/advisor to a company has an obligation to assign all their work product to the company. This is usually (should be) documented with each employee.

Think about an accelerator or CEO roundtable environment where people from different companies brainstorm together. For example, one company may be stuck on a product design question and other companies are lending their expertise. This may happen casually, while everyone is standing around the coffee pot, or it may be a formal, sit-down meeting with a whiteboard.

If a person from a first company suggests a solution that a second company implements, who owns that idea?

Without the BlueIron Good Neighbor Agreement, the first company can lay claim to the idea, even if it only relates to the second company’s business. This means the first company actually *owns* a part of the second company’s IP. Will the first company cause trouble down the road when the second company’s business takes off? There is a very real risk of that – so much so that patent value analysts will only give you half the normal value of this IP.

If the second company gets a patent on the idea, should the second company list the first company’s inventor on the patent application? To avoid fraudulently submitting a patent application, yes, the second company should list the inventor.

So when companies leave the accelerator, incubator, coworking space, CEO roundtable, or other such group, their IP is forever tainted. Do they own their trade secrets/patents free and clear? Without an agreement like the BlueIron Good Neighbor Agreement, no, they do not.

Each company is suppoed to benefit from the coworking environment. They come together for the encouragement, brainstorming, help, knowledge, expertise, and general benefits of working with like minded people.

The companies need to leave with free and clear title to their IP, which may be trade secrets, patents, procedures, or any other IP they may develop.

You should be able to work together and benefit from each other – not lose your most precious asset just because you did not put the ability in place for everyone to share effectively. The BlueIron Good Neighbor Agreement is a legal framework that encourages sharing ideas between companies, and facilitates transferring IP between these companies so that they all have clear title to their most valuable assets.

The BlueIron Good Neighbor Agreement is available here. You are free to use it under a Creative Commons open-source license.