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The importance of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and what startups should know

Intellectual Property
In the present age of social media, it is of utmost importance that secrecy should be maintained during the development of an idea/product.


The importance of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and what startups should know

“Imagine that one day you came to know that someone has already protected the similar idea or product, on which you are working that you have painstakingly developed by investing the huge money/intelligence”

In order to promote domestic market and the manufacturers, the Government of India had launched the “Make in India” campaign wherein various subsidies, benefits are introduced to the startups to facilitate and promote a feasible environment for the growth of entrepreneurial instinct of people. As the manufacturing involves creativity it is definite to pave ways for creation of Intellectual Property (IP) and hence it is crucial that proper protection should be sought in this regard before moving ahead with an idea in a market.

By owing an IP, a startup could transform into a million dollar entity and could create a niche for itself in market. IP can be a unique selling proposition (USP) of the product or service, and it could help to create a sustainable and defensible differentiator for an entity.

There are various forms of IP namely as Patents, Trademarks, Designs, Copyright, Trade secret etc under which a start-up can protect their idea or concept/ product/ process/ associated symbols, logos, brand name.

Problem faced by startups:

Although the knowledge about the IP rights in India is budding but people still need assistance and knowledge so as to decide properly about method of protection required for their ideas also, in addition to the products which are emerged from those ideas.

The major hardships faced by any Startup can be:

1. Protections after launch of the product/idea: It is not a good idea to plan for the protection of IP rights after all the planning are done w.r.t the business. A proper planning should be executed from the day one when the idea has been seeded in the brain because delay in such initiation cause huge loss to the IP.

To give an example publication of an invention before the filing can harness the protection rights as it will not be considered as novel by the registering authority. Similarly in case of trademark the same is required to be promoted from day one i.e. even if the production and distribution of a product is not started to make it distinctive however, promoting without getting an IP protection can create infringement;

2. Confusion regarding choice of proper protection for the idea/product: The choice of IP protection can sometime be a difficult problem for a novice; 

For example a product can have various shapes and same can be protected under different IP protections provided in India. A design or a shape of a product can be a subject matter of Trademark, Copyright as well Design. In order to safeguard the right related to a distinctive shape it is of utmost importance that the proper mode of protection should be chosen to get maximum out of the intellect put in creation of the shape. The guidance of an expert in this regard can be taken;

3. Lack of research before the launch of idea/products: IP rights are individual based rights and provide monopolistic rights in nature hence a lack of research before establishing a business can prove to be detrimental. For example a prior art search in case of patent for a product or a database search in case of trademark should be done before investment is made otherwise time and money spent on an idea which is already developed would be of no use;

4. Lack of secrecy before the launch: Most of the IP rights are based upon priority and once the same is lost, it doesn’t lead to any thing. In the present age of social media, it is of utmost importance that secrecy should be maintained during the development of an idea/product.

Steps taken and IP reforms initiated by the Government: The scheme of Startups Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP) aims to promote awareness and adoption of intellectual property rights among startups. The scheme is inclined to nurture and mentor innovative and emerging technologies among startups and assist them in protecting and commercialize it by providing them access to high-quality IP services and resources.

a) The government has empanelled several facilitators, who are required to provide IPR-related services to startups without charging anything from them. All the charges shall be bear by the government in order to encourage young entrepreneurs and innovation;

b) Fast-tracking of patent/trademark applications;

c) 50% rebate on filing of applications.

At times it has been noticed that startups shrink their budget when it comes to IP protection or might get so much engrossed in development of the product that the thought about protection of IP rights at the initial stages of development are not there in their mind. However, the need of the hour is that they utilize the facility been given by Government of India with respect to IP Protection as negligence of IP protection may be detrimental to the growth of their business in future.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the publication

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