Tips To Protect Your Intellectual Property While Working With A Freelancer

—By Ramya Sriram, digital content manager at Kolabtree, the freelance platform for scientists—

Working with freelancers or remote workers is becoming an increasingly popular trend among companies of all sizes. It offers a wealth of benefits: save costs, access a global network pool, get work done quickly. However, one of the major concerns that organisations have while working with freelancers/remote teams is around trust and safety. How can I be confident of sharing sensitive data with someone I’ve never met, who is not integrated into my company as a full-time employee? How can I make sure my information stays confidential, safe and secure?

Trust plays a key role in all working relationships. While hiring a freelancer, it’s important that you’re aware of steps you can take to make sure the experience is built on mutual trust for a successful experience. Here are some tips to help you protect your IP and collaborate with freelancers with full confidence.

Get Legal Protection for Protectable Assets

Protecting your ideas, products or other aspects of your business by means of copyrights, trademarks and patents is one of the first things to keep in mind when you’re ready with a new business. You can apply for a patent, register a design, register a trademark. Get to know the laws in the countries you’re in and/or are selling in. In some countries, you may need to actively apply for copyright protection (such as India), while in others, you might have copyright protection by default (such as the UK). If you’re working as an academic or researcher, it is important to familiarise yourself with IP policies and whether you have any safeguards in place in case you choose to disclose details in published work before you apply for a patent.

Sign Custom Agreements or NDAs

For added protection, you can share custom agreements to include any custom terms your organisations might require freelancers to adhere to. You can also easily share Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) that legally bind the freelancer to maintain confidentiality about anything work, ideas, material or knowledge that you share. You can share NDAs before disclosing your project details on platforms like Kolabtree, after which you can go ahead and discuss the scope of work.

Categorise Your Projects by Risk Level

The level of risk varies based on the project, the industry and the kind of work you’re looking to get done. For example, sharing information about a food product recipe might have a lower risk level as compared to sharing data with personally identifiable information. Understanding the risks upfront can help you take steps to mitigate them. Breaking down large and complex projects into smaller projects can also help you assess the risk involved at each stage and list out specific security measures you may need to take.

Protect Your Files

When you share files and collaborate with freelancers online, make sure you take these simple steps to protect your data:

  • Avoid sharing personally identifiable information as much as possible before you upload data. Make sure you only share data that the freelancer absolutely needs to work on your project
  • Make sure healthcare data is compliant with security and safety requirements, such as The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • While sharing files, try to use password protection methods, such as that offered by Adobe for PDFs
  • Give restricted access to documents with user-specific permissions, such as those offered by Google Docs or Dropbox

Know Your Freelancer

To collaborate successfully, you need to be able to trust the person you’re working with. Kolabtree’s freelancers are manually screened and you can verify their authenticity and level of expertise by taking the following steps:

  • Visit their official page in an academic institution or university. For example, this will tell you if they are in a postdoc, research or teaching position
  • Visit their LinkedIn profile
  • Look for alternative profiles online, such as those on Research Gate or Github
  • Check their list of publications to see what they have worked on previously

Working with freelance specialists can be a useful tool in getting the expertise and skillset you need for your project. For example, working with product development consultants can help you when formulating dietary supplements and other food products. At the same time, you need to know that you can trust these experts and be safe in the knowledge that your IP is protected. Kolabtree’s experts are manually screened and adhere to the highest levels of integrity. Many of them hold PhDs from institutions like Cambridge University, MIT, Harvard University, Oxford University, and more. As academics, scientists and industry experts themselves, they are particularly careful about information sensitivity.

Ready to hire a freelancer? Post your project for free on Kolabtree and get quotes from experts.