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  • Writer's pictureDrea Hickman

Cover Your Assets


HYSKY Society is advancing hydrogen aviation across the US and has the privilege of working with dynamic new companies developing the revolutionary technology that facilitates aviation’s transition to hydrogen fuel. Through these connections, with new players in a new industry, we discovered there is a common theme in the start-up experience. For every great idea that has the potential for significant impact, there is a bully strategizing how to take it, and leave its creator high and dry. So we decided to share some valuable information as a gentle reminder about the necessity of protecting your assets.

Intellectual Property, or IP, is a legal term used to describe assets that are intangible, such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. Also included are things like manuscripts, industrial designs, databases, and other creative efforts that are products of the mind, as opposed to ‘real’ or tangible property, made by hands or machines. Intellectual property is generated by original human thought, which is subject to exclusive ownership, and like real property, cannot be taken or used without permission.


Startups face a unique set of challenges when it comes to IP protection, particularly in industries such as hydrogen aviation that are rapidly evolving and highly competitive. The emerging technology in this industry is expansive, and concerns the production, storage, and transport of hydrogen, and its many various applications in aviation. Hydrogen aviation is in its infancy and experiencing an innovation boom. For it to continue to thrive, it is vital to understand how to keep IP safe from inception to production, and beyond.


The reality is that most start-ups do not patent their work because the patent process is expensive and time consuming, with no guarantee of success. This is a calculated risk that leaves them vulnerable, but prioritizing swift execution of their technology, allocating their resources towards product development and market penetration, and building a strong IP portfolio are the essential drivers of success at this stage, and is where the vast majority of their time and money is spent.


Just because a startup chooses not to pursue a patent does not mean that they should neglect their IP protection altogether. Building a strong IP portfolio can include a range of strategies beyond patents, such as filing a provisional patent application, registering their domain name, targeted community visibility, establishing market dominance on social media, pursuing an aggressive marketing strategy, securing trademarks, and effective branding.


Additionally, contracts are essential in business and can be used to exert dominance and establish boundaries surrounding IP. When discussing IP assets with others, it is always necessary to take the extra step of initiating non-disclosure agreements. These effectively put everyone on notice, where trust and a handshake fail, forming an expression of exclusive ownership that will hold up in court. Companies who use these strategies will create a barrier to entry for bullies, but can improve their position even more by purchasing IP Insurance.


IP insurance policies are an essential instrument for companies to protect their IP, whether or not they have a patent. By providing for IP enforcement and defense, as well as the financial protection of access to legal resources, IP Insurance enables companies to remain focused on developing and bringing their technology to market. For added peace of mind, the insurance company’s own lawyers, who specialize in IP law, will handle litigation when necessary, and will even work with in-house counsel in order to overcome any challenges.


Rob Oldroyd, CIC, CLCS, Risk Advisor with Moreton & Company, is a pioneer in advancing the adoption of IP Insurance for small businesses. He works with growth companies in which often an idea represents the majority of their value. He explains that start-ups are vulnerable to bigger and more powerful companies, and are regularly taken advantage of when they haven’t taken steps to protect their IP. Fortunately, when his clients encounter predatory business practices, they are not alone, because their policies are meticulously crafted to cover each unique IP situation, constantly protecting their investments and financial resources, and providing access to a team of legal experts working on their behalf.


He explains that his clients experience the added benefit of being more attractive to investors because having IP Insurance proves that their most valuable assets are secure. They are also more attractive when ownership is clear and the IP is well defined, but often in the early stages of innovation not much is certain. IP Insurance comes in clutch at times like this. The process of doing an individual IP risk assessment makes it clear just how valuable IP Insurance can be and we recommend initiating a discussion with Rob to put this in perspective. Start-ups who encounter legal issues without it often spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in litigation expenses, and ultimately, some never recover.


Obtaining IP insurance is one of the smartest moves a startup can make. Please, protect your assets. Hydrogen technology and innovation are absolutely critical to providing the clean energy required for the sustainability of our planet. HYSKY supports every advancement in hydrogen energy that creates a cleaner, safer world for future generations, and furthers our Hydrogen Age legacy so that our children do not inherit a dying planet.

~Interestingly, in the US, over half of venture capital going into hydrogen is funding start-ups who hold IP in low emission applications such as electrolyzers and fuel cells.

~And 80% of late stage investments in hydrogen go to start-ups who have initiated IP protection for green hydrogen production, transport, or storage innovations.

~Patent filings for hydrogen production technologies have grown an average of 18% each year since 2005.


If you would like more information about obtaining IP Insurance contact Rob Oldroyd: roldroyd@moreton.net

For more on hydrogen patent statistics this is a fascinating resource: https://www.irena.org/News/articles/2022/May/Patents-for-Green-Hydrogen-Technology-on-the-Rise

And as always, HYSKY has your back for all things hydrogen aviation, your success is our success. Keep Flying Hy! Connect with us through Drea Hickman a@hy-sky.net or HYSKY.org.

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