LACI@CSUN teaches students how to protect business ideas with its CEO speaker series

Lauren Rife

Intellectual property attorney, Jeff Joyner informed CSUN students, faculty and alumni about legally protecting their business ideas Thursday at the USU for LACI@CSUN.

This talk is apart of the “CEO speaker series,” presented by LACI@CSUN, which is designed to help start-up businesses at CSUN.

Joyner said that legally, technology can be copied and the best way to protect an invention that will or might be valuable to a competitor is to file a patent. He also went on to discuss the importance of trade secrets, trademarks and copyright.

Joyner said that contrary to what many people think, patents aren’t very expensive to file and they are also important for businesses.

Patents will usually keep others from creating, using or selling an invention, however they do not approve the right to create, use or sell the invention.

Joyner recommended obtaining a patent and speaking with a patent attorney before publicly disclosing an idea..

In order to avoid patent infringement, Joyner said the best thing to do would be to do a “thorough patent search early in product development.”

When hiring employees, be sure to make them sign confidentiality agreements, Joyner said. If a business is paying someone to develop something, the business owns it.

As for copyrights, Joyner said that if an idea is a “tangible medium, that is your copyright.” This means it has been recorded in some form of physical medium, whether it be a computer’s hard drive or on a piece of paper.

Joyner also discussed the use of trademarks- even if a business isn’t using a trademark, it should still be registered, due to priority reasons.

“I thought Jeff’s talk was great at helping begin the process of understanding intellectual property,” said Kevin Randolph, executive in residence at LACI. “The issue is complex and requires someone like Jeff to help innovators and entrepreneurs successfully navigate the issues.”

Randolph noted that Dr. Crist Khachikian, associate vice president of research and graduate studies at CSUN, “has recently taken a major step in providing CSUN resident expertise like Jeff’s now that Dr. Megha Patel will be joining CSUN as Assistant VP of Research and Economic Development.”

According to Khachikian, Patel “will be the gateway into the campus incubator for faculty, students and staff who are interested in commercializing products, programs and/or services.”