For many startups and entrepreneurs, the process of patenting their creations often isn't a top priority until it becomes the only priority.
For startups in the early seed stage, the only focus is on the development of the company's core product or service and the race to sign up customers. Patenting the company's creation isn't always top of mind.
Working on a patent can be time consuming, tedious and distracting for a young company, but the reality is that securing the right patents at critical stages of development can sometimes make or break a company down the road. If a company doesn't patent its product soon enough, it has the potential to have its hard work co-opted by a competitor.
Securing Canada's tech future
Securing the creations of Canada's tech startups for future generations is critical to fostering the long-term health of the industry and the economy as a whole. That's why TD created the Patents for Startups initiative, a first of its kind collaboration program designed to support startups and help them navigate the patent process.
"It’s the kind of thing that's never priority one until it's too late and you wish you finished it earlier," said Dan DeMers, Co-Founder of Cinchy.co.
"If you look at our technology and its ability to transform how data works in the enterprise, that is something worth protecting. TD's patents program enabled us to protect our IP much earlier in the startup lifecycle - we are very thankful for that now, but we are going to be even more thankful in the future"
"The program started because TD saw an opportunity to help startups overcome barriers for patenting their technology," said Josh Death, Head of Patentable Innovation and Intellectual Property at TD.
"It's truly to help foster relationships with startups and ultimately help the Canadian ecosystem of FinTechs as well."
"Initially when TD launched the program it was more experimental than anything else," said Death. "The program is designed to fit a certain niche in startups and has seen early success with companies like Cinchy and Senso, both of which are focused on the FinTech space."
Enabling startups to protect their intellectual property
Death said he ultimately sees the program as a relationship building tool. As the program continues, his team is continuing to work with startups to refine elements of the initiative to maximize the benefit for startups.
"The experience with TD has been so frictionless, we are now able to do what is right," said Saroop Bharwani, Founder and CEO of Senso, a company focused on the development of a machine learning algorithm to detect key advice moments to help financial institutions build more meaningful relationships with their existing customers.
"Now we have the freedom and budget to patent the right thing instead of having limitations. I feel a lot of freedom in being able to protect what we know is a piece of intellectual property that could make a big difference."
TD's program is helping companies in the seed stage file patents, both domestically and globally, and is focused on helping them succeed. With success, the hope is that TD will also be able to work with them side-by-side in the future.
By not taking any share of the equity from these startups, the program uniquely allows the original founders to retain their sense of idealism, individuality and choices made for the company.
"We didn’t have the financial resources to file patents and TD came along with an invitation to this program." said Bharwani. "I explain it as a no strings attached way for us to protect our company and intellectual property sooner on a global scale versus just a local scale."