It is important for every small business to protect their Intellectual Property. Most SME’s in India are not aware of the importance of how to go about procuring an IPR or Intellectual Property Rights and often fall prey to malpractices. Of the ≅40,000 IP applications, India received in 2013, over 85% of them were dominated by large corporates. This is indicative of the abysmal gap in IP applications from the SME sector. They lose out on valuable advantages and lose millions in revenue due to this lack of awareness.
What is Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)?
An IPR refers to the right of a person or company to use creations of their own minds, such as plans, ideas, inventions, etc. without the worry of competition. It can be sold, licensed and assigned like a regular asset.
An IPR can be in the form of:
Trademarks – A trademark refers to a symbol, design, phrase or word that distinguishes one business from its competitors
Copyrights – This includes works of art, design, literature, music, architectural works and computer software.
Patents – A patent gives the person or company exclusive rights over their invention and legally eliminates anybody else from using their invention for 20 years from the date of filing.
Trade Secrets – Trade secrets include any formula, process, device, or any other confidential business information that gives businesses an edge over their competitors.
The Government of India has recently come out with initiatives to promote awareness and the importance of Intellectual Property among startups and entrepreneurs. One such initiative, the Startup India program, that was launched on January 16, 2016, includes action plans to help protect IP which is referred to as “Scheme for Facilitating Startup Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP). Through this scheme, the GOI offers services and financial support to startups to protect their inventions through patent protection such as faster patent verification, legal help, patent filing and trademark application funding, and discounts in patent fees via IP facilitation centers.
The Indian government has also set up the Federation of Indian Micro, Small and Micro Enterprises (FISME) that has set up facilitation centers in Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad to build greater awareness of IP and its protection. Similarly, the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council conducts programs to increase the competitiveness of SME’s through IP awareness.
Here are the benefits of protecting one’s Intellectual Property:
Improves the brand value
Your business partners, investors and the market, in general, will perceive your company as an authority in the field you function in. It serves as a testament to the company’s capability while also helping in sourcing funds, finding business partners and improving the company’s market value.
Raise funds easily
You can leverage an IP to gain capital and funds from potential investors as this proves to them that they would be investing in a credible business. In the case of dire circumstances, a business can even resort to selling the IP to raise funds.
Gives you a competitive edge
Protecting your logo, design, unique products and taglines to stop your competitors from imitating anything specific to your brand, which gives you a competitive advantage over others.
This advantage translates into an ability to gaining a market share, which in turn helps you maintain a market. This usually is the secret of a business’s success.
Generate additional income
A patent on your invention gives you the opportunity to license or sell the right to commercialise it. This assures revenue in the form of a fee or royalty to the inventor through licensing while keeping ownership of your rights. Oftentimes, businesses associate themselves with stronger brands by licensing their invention to these reputed brands in a collaborative fashion thereby, building their brand image in the process.
Franchising is similar to licensing but gives the owner more control over the business. A franchise can allow the use of their successful models, goodwill and brand image for a fee.
Protect business growth
As a business, it is especially important to protect your unique products or services that help grow your market share, resulting in slow growth or loss of revenue.
Though applying for an IP may seem daunting and time-consuming at first, all you need to do is follow the instructions mentioned on the IP India website. It is worth the time and effort as not only will it protect your business but help it grow and expand too.