by Naomi Kokubo editor of Founders Space
Is there a way to secure the rights to an innovative plastic card processing program (alternative to cash) targeting a specific target market? So that large banks and financial institutions (other than the one we potentially partner with) cannot duplicate?
The first thing you can do is file a provisional patent. This is fairly easy to do and will cover you for one year. Within that year you will need to file one or more full patents based on the provisional patent. This is probably your best protection.
Another thing you may consider is trademarking the brand. If you can get to market quickly enough and gain consumer traction, the brand itself could be valuable and help defend your market share.
In addition, you should copyright everything associated with your innovative plastic card processing program. Copyrights are easy to obtain and actually provide some degree of protection.
That said, a competitor with enough resources can always find a way to work around your patents and copyrights, so your best defense of all is getting to market quickly, forming key strategic partnerships, and building your business and brand.
The fact is that most large banks and financial institutions are not very innovative and are slow moving, so you have the advantage of being a small startup. There’s always going to be some degree of risk, but if you execute well, the large banks and financial institutions are much more likely to partner with you than compete.
I hope this helps!