Intellectual property (IP) is the buzzword these days in the startup industry. Startups attempting to bridge the market gap in a particular industry articulate their unique product vision, thereby shaping their innovations. And, there are a multitude of opportunities to create intellectual property.
During an insightful masterclass at TechSparks 2021 – Your storythe flagship summit of technology, innovation and leadership of – Hemang Shah, India Engineering Lead (Startups, Innovation) Qualcomm Technology Licensing, India, deepened into the importance of intellectual property to businesses and variations in intellectual property relevant to tech startups.
The Role of Intellectual Property in Business Growth
Hemang said the main advantage of intellectual property is to prevent competitors from copying their original ideas.
He added, â€œA good investor these days asks if the startup’s technology is backed by intellectual property. If you are looking for ways to increase your funds or your valuation, you cannot ignore the intellectual property which is a significant part of your assets.
In addition, there are marketing advantages to having the intellectual property in the products of startups so that they can collaborate with other startups and companies using their intellectual property. Companies can also monetize their intellectual property strategies and generate revenue by transacting through assignment or licensing.
â€œOne important thing remains that if someone has unauthorized rights to your intellectual property, you can immediately take legal action,â€ said Hemang.
IP strategies can have two perspectives: offensive (technology adds certain values â€‹â€‹and would be beneficial if shared with others) and defensive (owners want to make sure they are protected).
â€œIt’s not open binary, where you can choose one of the two. In reality, it is a mixture of the two strategies, â€he added.
The Government of India has several categories of IP including industrial designs, patents, trademarks, trade secrets, IG, plant varieties, and copyright and neighboring rights.
Classification of IP addresses
Copyright protects artistic expressions. Although everyone solves the same equation, the coding should be different. This is where copyright enters the technological space.
â€œYou may be expressing your ideas through slides or PowerPoint applications, and all of the content is copyrighted,â€ said Hemang.
In fact, affixing the copyright symbol to the product may deter unauthorized copying by others.
Brands protect brand identities. For example, certain products are known to consumers with certain images or symbols that they use.
In the startup ecosystem, the name of the company may be different from the names of products or services. Owners might consider filing trademarks for both, which sets the company apart from its competitors.
â€œIt’s like associating consumers with the brand value of the company or the product, or maybe both,â€ he said.
Industrial designs protect the appearance, feel and design of the product, and play a major role in clarifying the originality of the design.
The patent is an exclusive right granted to inventors, allowing them to protect their invention while preventing others from using it without authorization.
The criteria for acquiring patents include novelty (an invention not previously disclosed or to the outside), evidence (not obvious for what is already known), utility (to benefit people in general), and fully described (to be able to reproduce the invention by following the patent application document).
â€œFollowing the above four would definitely be beneficial in overcoming the difficulties and would be beneficial for the community as a whole,â€ added Hemang.
Patent rights last 20 years from the date of filing and may be used in the public domain.
Explain the National patent offices, Hemang said, â€œThey act as a repository of information relating to patent applications. So you can visit their website and search for all granted patents as well as those in application phase. Patent offices also assess the patentability of inventions.
Talk about Provisional specification, he said, â€œImagine if tomorrow you go for a large presentation with several large-scale participants, your work will act like prior art against you. Before attending, you can file a request for a provisional specification. Basically, it’s like filing a draft before submitting the real one, and that tentative time saves you time.
“They [patent office] might highlight some objections based on their assessments of patentability. After a few trips back and forth, you could reach the final stage, where your patent could be rejected or accepted, â€he said..
Patents are territorial. If the patent application is filed and granted in India, its rights will be valid only in India. However, as an alternative, individuals can still request a Patent application treaty, which governs the international patent system, allowing inventors to file a single application for several countries.
â€œYou might think your product is going to take a particular approach today. However, the technology is dynamic and your market adoption may be different. So, in a few years, your take on a particular product might be different. This period allows you to validate whether your patent is worth protecting in all the applied countries. In addition, you can use this time to organize funds for the launch of your patent applications in these countries â€, explained Hemang.
Start-up programs in India
The Indian government has introduced a Facilitate the protection of the intellectual property of startups (SIPP) which covers a few areas.
For example, if a startup files a patent application, it is assessed on an expedited basis. In addition, startups can also get an 80% reduction in patent filing fees, which includes Intellectual property facilitators work on the trademark and patent filing.
IP Facilitators are involved with government and work for the startup’s IP application. In fact, these facilitators are featured in the Startup India portal.
To connect to our virtual events platform and discover TechSparks 2021 with thousands of other tech startup enthusiasts from around the world, join here. Don’t forget to tag # TechSparks2021 when you share your experience, learnings and favorite moments from TechSparks 2021.
For a list of all the action-packed sessions at YourStory’s flagship startup conference, check out TechSparks 2021 website.