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Communitech announced this morning two new programs to help startups protect their intellectual property and get the legal advice they need from an early stage.

The first, in partnership with law firms Bereskin & Parr, Miller Thomson and Gowlings will offer one-on-one guidance from qualified lawyers at no cost.

Lawyers will offer specific IP advice, as well as provide guidance on the importance of early and fair shareholder agreements, and general legal advice on issues like incorporation and equity-based incentives.

“Canadians are very good at generating ideas, however we struggle to bring these ideas to market on a globally competitive basis,” said Jim Hinton, a lawyer and patent agent at Bereskin & Parr LLP.

“One of the reasons is that sophisticated legal advice around IP rights is not available at the right time in the innovation cycle.”

The second is the continuation of an international intellectual property law clinic, launched last year by the Centre for International Governance Innovation and Communitech. This year, the clinic will be hosted in partnership with the University of Windsor, and match professionally supervised law students with startups to provide basic legal knowledge and guidance on IP protections.

“Startups face a lot of legal hurdles, from intellectual property law to corporate legal issues,” said Iain Klugman, CEO of Communitech. “Sound legal advice early on can make all the difference in building a company that can scale to take on the world.”

Both programs are available to Communitech Startup Services Group clients who have less than $1 million in revenue or $2 million in private investment and are headquartered in Ontario.