During my time as a Patent Attorney I've often been asked why Intellectual Property (IP) is important, and more specifically why a prospective client should prioritise protecting their invention.
This article summarises the answer to this question well - it's important to protect your IP fully, at least from a patent point of view, to ensure you would be able to prevent others taking your ideas and using them for themselves with simple workarounds. Having robust protection in place can also be key when you come to looking for investors, who will be looking to check that your ideas (and if applicable branding) are ring-fenced, so their money is (at least more) secure.
The question I'm often asked as a follow up is why does patent protection cost so much? The answer to this is complex - amongst things to consider are:
(i) to draft a patent applications takes time, it's a complex legal document that is drafted to try to make sure it covers the workarounds that the patentee would be upset if others could do without infringing their rights; and
(ii) there is no such thing as a worldwide patent; although you can delay costs by filing a priority application and, for the majority of jurisdictions, by filing a PCT application, ultimately you'll have to make a decision about where it is important to have protection and that decision will contribute to the cost.
The IP of a tech startup is typically its most valuable asset. The products and services it brings to market will help it secure market share and earn revenue, but neither the market share nor revenue will be secure unless the company can prevent other companies from stealing its concepts, brands, and inventions. IP also constitutes a major consideration for investors because they'll want to know that your startup has control over all the ideas, code, and branding you'll need to develop and market your products and services. Clearly, without its IP, a tech startup would have little leverage in the market, thus making it essential to protect these rights as quickly as possible.