Tools for founders

Protecting intellectual property and an overview of legal forms of business

A good idea is the beginning of every successful business, and it is wonderful when the idea also excites others. But how do I protect my intellectual property from unauthorized access by second and third parties? And which legal form is actually the right one for positioning my product or my service on the market? Insights in the legal basis of founding a company and protecting an idea were offered by the tax consultant Dipl. Kfm. Stefan Hillebrand, Dr. Klaus Oepen (a lawyer specializing in commercial and corporate law), as well as Dr. Mario Krogmann (a lawyer specializing in industrial property protection) last week to our start-ups at kraftwerk.

Let’s start with the company founding: GbR, OHG, GmbH, or UG – which legal form is the right one for my company? Limited liability, the separation of capital and management, sole proprietor, or a partnership – which criteria need to apply? And then there are still the issues of tax regulations, internal and external liability, and the social security assessment of the shareholders and managing directors of a corporation. And when is a company actually considered to be founded? To those whose head is spinning already, we must say: that is just the tip of the iceberg. Stefan Hillebrand and Klaus Oepen, though, made sure everything was in order, answered questions like how much of a share should be given to an investor, calculated some examples, and talked about the subjects of accounting and taxation.

So far, so good. The core of everything, though, is the idea, and the basis for monetary success is the product that we want to sell. This idea needs to be protected – but how? Well, the aspect of protection is – not surprisingly – also very diverse. In addition to protection for a technical innovation by registering a patent or the protection of know-how, copyrights can also protect brand names, trademarks, designs, words, logos, colors, shapes, slogans, claims, or text. The three stripes of Adidas, the chocolaty Milka lilac color, or the 52 teeth of the Leibniz butter cookie are protected just like “I love it”, “Just do it!”, or “Nutella”. Detailed clarifications of terms, legal foundations, and contact persons for national, regional, and international trademark protection were provided by Mario Krogmann.

By now even the ears of the last listener were smoking. That’s OK, because being comprehensively informed so you know your rights and possibilities is be most secure starting point for success in business. And we have our sights set firmly on all our start-ups.