Protecting Your Secret Sauce: How Intellectual Property Rights Unlock Business Scalability

Leveraging Intellectual Property Rights in Building a Scalable Business


In this conversation, Bhavesh Naik interviews Chris Bennett with Technology-Innovation-Law LLC (TIL) about intellectual property and its role in building scalable businesses. They discuss the impact of underrepresented communities, the support available for entrepreneurs, and the importance of an executable business philosophy. They also explore different ways in which intellectual property can be protected, including trade secrets, trademarks, copyrights, and patents. The conversation highlights the benefits of protecting intellectual property in business processes and systems, such as increased value and potential for growth.

Further, Chris and Bhavesh discuss the importance of intellectual property rights and the role of people in innovation. They explore the limitations of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in creating intellectual property and emphasize the value of human perspective. They also discuss the process of intellectual property protection and the need to build it into the culture of an organization. The conversation touches on the future of intellectual property and AI, the importance of resilience in the entrepreneurial journey, and the journey of self-actualization.

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About Christopher Bennett

As a founder of TIL, Technology Innovation Law LLC, Christopher Bannett has pioneered a social impact law venture revolutionizing access to intellectual property rights, or IPR, for the underrepresented.

His design delivers IPR as a digital service and as a digital software product, enhancing accessibility and affordability, crucial for fostering innovation and economic growth. Chris's approach integrates technology and innovation law to build sustainable business models with an eye on social equity.

His unique blend of legal expertise, business acumen, and technological insight positions him as a visionary force tirelessly working towards a more equitable and inclusive future for us all.

"What we're getting at is the people are the key innovation arbiters. Wise organizations will want to build on that and leverage it."

~ Christopher Bennett, Founder

T-I-L® Technology-Innovation-Law LLC

Conversation Summary

Following are the sections we covered in this conversation with their summaries, along with the time location in the video and audio to follow along.

00:00 Introduction to Christopher Bennett and Background

Bhavesh Naik interviews Chris Bennett, founder of TIL, Technology Innovation Law LLC, on the importance of building a scalable business with a self-empowered group of people. They discuss the legal aspects of protecting intellectual property in such businesses and how Chris's unique approach integrates technology and innovation law to promote social equity. Chris is recognized for his legal expertise, business acumen, and vision for a more inclusive future. 

02:32 Underrepresented Communities and their Impact

Chris discusses the underrepresented demographics his firm serves, which are primarily people of color, women, small business startups, creatives, and social impact organizations across a wide range of economic backgrounds. Supporting these entrepreneurs could grow the U.S. GDP by around $1 trillion annually. In addition to the economic impact, Bennett shares a personal story about how lack of IP knowledge prevented his uncle from benefiting from a hit song he wrote, illustrating the importance of IP education. His firm's mission aligns with several UN Sustainable Development Goals around reducing inequalities.

06:32 Supporting Underrepresented Entrepreneurs

Chris introduces the idea of 4 A's of Intellectual Property development. He expands on how lack of awareness and some misconceptions about Intellectual Property contribute to the structural barriers to economic success among companies with up to 500 employees. This approach challenges the traditional top-down model of innovation and encourages bottom-up contributions from all employees, recognizing their unique perspectives and experiences as valuable assets in creating business value. Bennett emphasizes the importance of embracing individual perspectives and unique life journeys in driving innovation and success.

Quick Insights

  • There is a business method type of patent that can help protect unique business operating systems.

  • Layering trademarks, patents, copyrights and trade secrets maximizes IP protection.

  • Involving employees in creating IP from the start fosters inclusivity and innovation.

  • Legally protecting processes increases company valuation for investors/acquisition.

  • Generative AI cannot independently create protected IP - human ingenuity is required.

09:48 The Role of Intellectual Property in Business Operating Systems

Chris spells out the four A's approach to protecting and developing intellectual property rights: awareness, access, affordability, and availability of potential return on investment.

Bhavesh introduces the concept of an "executable business philosophy" - the unique systems, processes and values that allow a company to scale. He asks Chris if aspects of this can be protected as IP. Chris explains business method patents and layering trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets can provide protection.

18:24 Benefits of Protecting Intellectual Property in Business Systems

Chris Bennett discusses the benefits of protecting intellectual property in building out systems and processes for businesses. He highlights the importance of transmitting values, mission, and strategy to the organization, which can be facilitated through intellectual property rights like trade secrets. Bennett emphasizes the challenge of multiplying value without cloning oneself and the significance of creating knowledge that increases earnings and enterprise value. By leveraging intellectual property rights, organizations can pass on their values and information effectively, creating tangible value for stakeholders and investors.

Protecting a company's IP yields three key benefits: 1) Enshrining the founder's vision to be executed by others, 2) Enabling knowledge transfer to employees while maintaining competitive advantage, and 3) Increasing valuation for investors or acquisition by showing protected assets.

Bennett outlines the three components of IP rights: 1) The core patented or trademarked elements, 2) Surrounding trade secrets that don't expire, and 3) Copyright protection over creative works like code. A layered approach maximizes protection.

References from the Conversation

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030

Quoted from the United Nations website: "The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity."

Invictus, the Poem

"It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul."

Excerpt from Invictus by William Ernest Henley | Poetry Foundation

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

Chris Bennett is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity of which
Thurgood Marshall and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were also members. 

Joseph Campbell and the Hero's Journey

Joseph Cambell was an American writer and a professor of literature who is best-known for his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, in which he discusses the journey of the hero shared by world mythologies. 

22:18 Starting the Process of Intellectual Property Protection

Bhavesh proposes a process for laying out an Executable Business Philosophy that can potentially be protected as Intellectual Property Rights.

The Business

In this article and podcast episode, we explore the importance of cultivating our inner business philosopher and how it can help us build self-sustaining organizations. 

23:01 Distinguishing Common Sense from Intellectual Property

Chris discusses the importance of documenting procedures, processes, values, vision, and mission to create an executable business philosophy. He emphasizes the distinction between common sense business practices and proprietary intellectual property, highlighting the role of people in generating unique ideas and innovations. Bennett points out that while artificial intelligence can create unique content, current intellectual property laws do not recognize AI as an author. This underscores the significance of human input in generating valuable intellectual property for business success.

Chris emphasizes the need to separate proprietary innovations worthy of IP protection from common-sense business practices. Corporate values are a foundation, but novel ideas stemming from them may qualify for patents, trademarks, etc. For this reason, people matter to the process of protecting Intellectual Property.

24:14 The Role of People in Innovation

With AI proliferating, Chris argues organizations must embrace employees' unique perspectives as the true "innovation arbiters." Involving people from the start in developing protectable IP breeds an inclusive, innovative culture.

Chris emphasizes that intellectual property arises from foundational values and mission, highlighting the importance of people as key innovation arbiters. While generative artificial intelligence can create unique content, it cannot generate patents or copyrights on its own. Bennett notes that organizations should leverage human input and technology to create value, as people bring unique perspectives and knowledge to the table, which will be increasingly crucial in the age of AI. Bhavesh Naik agrees, underscoring that uniqueness and value come from human input in a world where AI provides common knowledge.

Key Strategies for Leveraging Intellectual Property

  • Begin with the end goal in mind when protecting business IP.

  • Conduct an "innovation inventory" to identify protectable elements.

  • Use the "TIPAS" model to catalog technology, innovation, protection areas.

  • Look for the four A's when seeking to protect Intellectual Property: Awareness, Access, Affordability, and Availability of Return on Investment (ROI).

  • Write down procedures, processes, values, vision and mission.

  • Distinguish proprietary elements from common practices.

  • Recruit with IP creation as part of the company culture expectation.

24:58 The Value of Human Perspective in the Age of AI

Chris and Bhavesh discuss the value of human input in creating unique content and intellectual property, particularly in the age of AI. They highlight that AI-generated content is being deranked by platforms like Google in favor of original human-created content, underscoring the importance of human perspective, knowledge, and wisdom in adding value to organizations. Bennett confirms that legal protection applies to content with significant human contribution, such as copyrights and patents in the United States.

Chris contends that despite AI's advancement, human experiences from "womb to tomb" give people an invaluable innovative edge that machines cannot yet replicate. Employee ingenuity remains paramount for companies.

Current laws require human inventors for patentability and human authors for copyrightable creative works. While AI can assist, legally protectible IP must originate from people for the foreseeable future.

27:08 The Importance of People in Creating Value

Using tech giants like Apple as an example, Chris shows how companies layer IP protections by involving their employees' creativity. Making people the "innovation arbiters" leads to sustainable competitive advantages.

28:07 The TIPAS Model for Intellectual Property Development

Chris Bennett advises starting with a clear goal in mind and conducting an inventory of innovations to determine the resources contributing to innovation. He highlights traditional forms of intellectual property like copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and patents, as well as emerging technologies like blockchain. Bennett emphasizes the importance of documenting and capturing innovative processes early in the journey towards achieving business goals.

Chris's firm uses an internal "TIPAS" model--Technology Innovation Protection for Assets and Systems--to guide clients in inventorying innovations across traditional IP types like patents and copyrights, as well as emerging blockchain-enabled IP.

29:12 Capturing and Documenting Innovation

A key first step is documenting all innovation touchpoints - ideas, designs, code, processes - that a company encounters on its growth journey, so this proprietary output can be properly captured and protected.

"There are options on how you might want to protect that business operating system. You may want to protect the core elements itself, or you may want layers around it that give it additional flexibility."

~ Christopher Bennett, Founder

T-I-L® Technology-Innovation-Law LLC

31:12 Building Intellectual Property and DEI into the Culture of the Organization

To build intellectual property and DEI into the culture of the organization, Chris Bennett advises focusing on innovation at a larger scale, involving various resources and touchpoints in the process. This includes identifying unique ideas, designs, software code, and trade secrets early on and protecting them through copyrights, trademarks, and patents. He emphasizes the importance of incorporating intellectual property considerations into recruitment processes and fostering a culture of innovation from the beginning to build a robust portfolio of intellectual property rights as the business progresses.

For maximum impact, Chris recommends baking IP awareness into a company's culture and recruitment from day one, empowering all employees to contribute novel ideas as an "innovation organization."

By emphasizing employee ingenuity in IP creation, companies can foster an inclusive environment that values diverse perspectives and life experiences - integrating DEI seamlessly into the culture.

32:20 Sharing Intellectual Property for the Benefit of Others

While protecting core IP, Chris' firm aims to share its own innovations with clients, partners and the public when appropriate - whether openly, through investment, or knowledge transfer - for mutual benefit.

34:19 The Future of Intellectual Property and Artificial Intelligence

Chris envisions the future of intellectual property and AI as transformative, touching every aspect of society with both positive and negative impacts. He emphasizes the need for government, private sector, and societal collaboration to maximize the benefits of AI while addressing challenges. As the founder of TIL, he focuses on social impact missions, leveraging legal tech to support underserved communities in protecting and monetizing their innovation. Bennett's goal is to ensure the continuity of TIL's mission through collaboration, co-creation, and team empowerment, even in his absence. 

Ultimately, Chris sees AI as a transformative but unpredictable technology that society must guide responsibly. His firm will continue its social impact mission of empowering underserved innovators amidst the changes.

38:45 The Importance of Resilience in the Entrepreneurial Journey

Chris acknowledges the entrepreneurial path has its "dark nights of the soul." Drawing from his humble beginnings, military family, and resilient single mother, he perseveres by refocusing on his goals.

In discussing the importance of resilience in the entrepreneurial journey, Chris reflects on his humble beginnings and the challenges he has faced as a bootstrap entrepreneur. He emphasizes the value of resilience and the ability to focus on the ultimate goal when encountering difficulties. Chris's approach involves working backwards from the goal, assessing the current situation, and determining the best way to move forward. He believes that resilience is a common trait among entrepreneurs and individuals facing challenges in a rapidly changing world, highlighting the importance of collaboration and shared experiences in overcoming obstacles and achieving success.

Movie Referenced in the Conversation

Invictus: Starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon

The inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) joined forces with the captain of South Africa's rugby team, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), to help unite their country.

41:53 The Journey of Self-Actualization

In discussing the journey of self-actualization, Chris Bennett reflects on the constant evolution and pursuit of being the best in all aspects of life. He emphasizes the importance of self-reflection, analysis, adjustment, and execution to continually improve and contribute positively to the world. Bennett's quest for self-actualization is influenced by his family's work ethic and perseverance, leading him to recognize the responsibility to give his best to the world. His journey aligns with the principles of the hero's journey and the pursuit of excellence captured in the poem "Invictus."

Bennett believes in a constant pursuit of self-actualization - being one's best mentally, physically, emotionlaly and spiritually as a "moving target." This ethos helps navigate entrepreneurial challenges.

46:18 Advice for Entrepreneurs

Chris Bennett advises entrepreneurs to begin with the end goal in mind and be prepared to adapt and make assessments along the way. By focusing on the ultimate objective and being flexible in their approach, entrepreneurs can navigate various challenges and make informed decisions to achieve success in their business ventures.

Bennett's key advice:

  1. Begin with the end goal in mind, and

  2. Be prepared to adapt as that goal potentially changes over time based on circumstances and growth.

47:04 Getting in Touch

Chris can be reached on LinkedIn, his company's websites (law firm and legal tech), a dedicated email he'll provide, or social media like Instagram and TikTok.

"At the end of the day, the person or the organization will own that intellectual property that AI cannot create on its own."

~ Christopher Bennett, Founder

T-I-L® Technology-Innovation-Law LLC

Conclusions And Take-aways

  • Underrepresented communities can contribute to economic growth and innovation when given access to intellectual property rights.

  • An executable business philosophy or operating system can help businesses scale beyond their founders by transmitting knowledge and values to employees.

  • Intellectual property can be protected through trade secrets, trademarks, copyrights, and patents.

  • Protecting intellectual property in business systems can lead to increased value and potential for growth.

  • Intellectual property rights consist of three components: individual contribution, replication and passing of values, and manifesting value for stakeholders.

  • The role of people is crucial in innovation, as AI cannot be recognized as an author of intellectual property.

  • The process of intellectual property protection starts with capturing and documenting innovation and building it into the culture of the organization.

  • In the age of AI, the uniqueness and value come from human perspective and the ability to create something that cannot be replicated by machines.
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