Intellectual Property

In the present era, Intellectual Property (IP) is quite often not adequately appreciated by various enterprises and SMEs in India. By miserably failing to realize the value of IP and the immense potential it holds in providing opportunities leading to the future growth and success of every industry, the business owners are digging their own graves. Instead of being perceived as an obscure legal concept, IP should be seen as a powerful tool, contributing significantly to economic development. If utilized appropriately, IP can indeed prove to be instrumental in keeping the competitive advantage for enterprises and SMEs. IP can effectively safeguard unique innovations, ideas, and concepts, from theft and infringement by competitors. Besides, IP also enhances the overall worth or value of the business firm or organization in the eyes of the investors.

In developing nations like India, SMEs are often considered as the backbone of the country as they generate more employment opportunities than multi-national corporations. According to various reports, the number of registered and unregistered SMEs working in India is somewhere around 42 million. Collectively, they offer employment opportunities to approximately 100 million people, which is roughly 40% of the entire workforce. Because of such reasons, these companies need to invest in building and managing their IP portfolios for sustenance and growth.

Trademarks, Patents, and Much More!

Many people across the globe are of the view that IP is all about patents and trademarks. It is a matter of fact that yes; trademarks and patents are two exclusive forms of IP. However, there are various other lesser-known forms of IP as well. Geographical Indications (GIs) serve to safeguard enterprises within a specific geographical area or boundary by preventing the competitors outside the geographical area from copying their products. Under the Indian Legal System, there is another form of IP, known as trade secrets. If a competitor gains unauthorized access to a company’s trade secret using unlawful methods, then the company can initiate legal proceedings for the recovery of monetary damages. A typical example of a well-protected trade secret is the composition of Pepsi. People are aware that Pepsi’s composition includes water, caffeine, sugar, CO2, and color. But, the way they mix them, and in what proportion and order is a trade secret. Industrial Designs protect the characteristics or features of configuration, shape, surface pattern, or combination of colors or lines, which when applied to either, a 2D or 3D functional article, improves its visual appearance.

Depending on the type and nature of the business, enterprises should craft their IP strategy carefully. They should make sincere efforts to choose the right combination of trademarks, patents, copyrights, geographical indications, and so on, to gain popularity and increase the sales of their services and products in the market. In India, various awareness programs proposed on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are being currently organized in many regions for providing an overview of IP issues corresponding to copyrights, patents, trademarks, etc.

Advantages to Enterprises

A lot of institutions are working hard to increase IP awareness among the enterprises and SMEs of India. For instance, the National Institute of Intellectual Property Management (NIIPM) is known for offering training, education, research, and conducts seminars and workshops in the field of IPRs. Furthermore, it also caters to the needs of 4 types of IP, including, trademarks, industrial designs, patents, and geographical indications. Established by the Government of India in 1980, the Patent Information System (PIS) effectively manages and maintains a collection of patent-related literature and specifications on a worldwide basis to be used by various organizations, state governments, and industries. Various other institutions such as the National Intellectual Property Organization (NIPO), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC), amongst many others, are also working towards providing knowledge on IP and helping in the economic development of enterprises.

The Government of India introduced the India Innovation Index in 2017, which ranks the Indian states based on the degree of their innovation. Moreover, the Government also came up with the Intellectual Property Rights Scheme (IPRS) in 2017, which is an awareness action plan and a further implementation of the National IPR Policy (2016). In a nutshell, enterprises can extract many benefits from such programs and effectively carve their IP strategy.