Understanding the intellectual property rights for businesses in India

The Indian corporate landscape is full of uncertainties, but there remains one resolute constant – Innovation.


In order to surpass your competitors and establish yourself as an industry leader, businesses must constantly brainstorm and derive creative solutions to complex customer problems.


Simultaneously, you must also protect your ideas and tech from being plagiarized or outrightly stolen!


Rampant piracy has resulted in a growing demand for protecting intellectual property rights in India.


But safeguarding your intellectual assets to easier said than done. Indian companies are facing massive complications in obtaining Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).


India can make big waves in its intellectual property protection process through a robust IPR policy.

Intellectual property - A major factor for investors

Intellectual property rights in India are all the rage, and rightfully so.


Intellectual property assets have the potential to become a major revenue stream with endless possibilities to monetize them.


More importantly, IP assets are a key factor during the funding stage for potential investors.


Brand recognition is an important aspect of business, which is why investors today are more likely to invest in companies with an efficient intellectual property protection strategy.


Companies that know the value of their intellectual property, register it promptly, and formulate an IPR policy are more aligned to the success mindset of the elite investors than others.

Why should companies pay attention to the relevance of intellectual property?

1. Build a competitive edge

As we mentioned earlier, intellectual property assets are an untapped reservoir of revenue stream.


Through licensing, companies can monetize their IP assets and contribute to the growing company valuation and goodwill.


IPR protection in India can give you that competitive edge over your rivals and position you favorably in front of powerful investors.


A stringent IPR policy is instrumental in ensuring that your intellectual property assets are safe from piracy and theft attempts.


2. Attain business goals with a strong IP portfolio

Intellectual property protection is not just a strategy to win your investors' confidence in you; intellectual property assets are a valuable investment portfolio in and of themselves.


To leverage investment opportunities in your favor, you must first visualize IP assets as investment angles.


Employing strategic prioritization toward research and development, trade secret protection, IPR policy, and more can help you achieve business goals faster.


3. Build a culture that prioritizes intellectual property assets

Business owners and legal teams realizing and protecting the value of intellectual property rights in India is not enough.


Utilizing IP Investments to achieve maximum revenue should be a culture embraced across functions, departments, and teams.


Companies can see a massive uptick in value and revenue generation by creating a company culture that effectively strategizes on how to deploy intellectual property assets.

Intellectual property laws for businesses in India

Intellectual property protection is a complicated and challenging process for Indian business and trade partnerships.


IPR laws in India are significantly impacted by the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights, also known as TRIPs - a part of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to which India is a signatory.


In accordance with TRIP’s, India has amended the Indian Patents Act 1970 thrice, with fully TRIPs compliant Trademarks Act, Designs Registration Act, and Copyright Act related to IPR policy.


It is advisable to register a succinct, original, and legible brand name with the Trademarks Office that doesn’t render your company vulnerable to potential litigation.


Additionally, create a strong IPR policy in your organization with respect to any intellectual property assets created by existing employees that can be legally owned and patented under your organization.

How to enforce and register intellectual property rights in India?

Intellectual property rights in India can be enforced through criminal prosecution or by bringing offenders to the civil courts.


IPR laws in India have set out systems for civil and criminal proceedings.


However, it is notable that criminal proceedings are not applicable in cases of patent and design intellectual property infringement.


To ensure IPR protection in India, follow the intellectual property registration process mentioned below.


Patents

 Individual registrations are a must for patents, however, for rights over non-industrial designs, one can apply under the Patent Cooperation Treaty terms. This process is easier and faster.


Trademarks

For this kind of intellectual property, register it within India, either through the Madrid system or under the domestic trader mark system.


Copyright

In the case of this IPR, India requires no registration as such. However, it is advisable to register copyrights with designated copyright authorities.


Priority rights

Under the Paris Convention, one can locally register trademarks, designs, and patents by rights already registered in other locations to become effective in India, within a certain deadline.

How does a company get affected if it doesn't own or control all of its intellectual property?

Failure to enforce absolute authority over one's IP assets and be result in serious intellectual property issues:



1. A reckless or non-existent IPR policy can land the business in a state of threat or exploitation.


The threat can be by an unhappy ex-employee in exchange for intellectual property assets that should have been acquired by the company as soon as they were produced.



2. A weak IPR policy can leave the company vulnerable to external threats, including but not limited to lawsuits against the organization.


Since the intellectual property rights were not properly transferred to the company, an ex-employee can enforce intellectual property infringement on your IP assets.



3. Without an exclusive authority over the company’s IP assets, it can legally be reproduced, duplicated, and modified by your competitors and fraudsters alike.


Using your design and trademark on fake products, your unprotected intellectual property assets can become the reason for your valuation and reputation downfall.



4. Lacking an intellectual property protection strategy can allow your co-founder(s) to dissolve the partnership, build a competitive brand using your IP assets, and tank your company’s net worth.



5. Funding efforts can take an enormous backseat due to a company’s lack of intellectual property rights in India.


Losing your intellectual property assets can lower your market value and brand recognition, thereby making you a risky investment. This can result in investment offers either getting rescinded or becoming more stringent than before.

Does building a strong IP portfolio aid in the protection of the company's innovations?

Innovation is the building block of a company’s growth and revenue, and therefore needs to be protected.


A strong IP portfolio can help safeguard your business’s intellectual property assets. An effective IP portfolio is constantly evolving and monitoring quality compliance regularly.


By deftly managing the company’s knowledge economy, innovative entrepreneurs can reap the benefits of their creations through licensing revenue streams and funds obtained from potential investors.


With a powerful IP system that can manage an entire economy’s IPR, India can easily participate in a free and secure flow of information and technology.


A strong IP portfolio also deters competitors from committing intellectual property infringement and fosters an environment of fair play.


Furthermore, by commercializing these innovations, businesses can help improve existing technology. Strategic use of your IP portfolio ensures high ROI in the long run.

Strategies to protect the ownership of your intellectual property in India

While intellectual property rights in India have been properly amended as per World Trade Organization directives, IP law enforcement still remains a concern.


Delay in bureaucratic proceedings, backlog in court cases, and a lack of transparency are some of the chief problems faced by companies embroiled in civil/criminal intellectual property disputes.


Reliance on laws for adequate IPR protection in India is not enough – companies can adopt strategies to protect their intellectual property assets and stay prepared:



Intellectual property protection rules are unique to each country. Therefore all companies, especially foreign companies, must invest in receiving guidance from a subject matter expert in this regard.



Remember to safeguard your IP assets, irrespective of the individual/organization you are associated with. Establish regular checks and risk analysis.



Since intellectual property rights are a relatively newer concept in India, it's always prudent to consult with the best lawyers and fellow founders to formulate the ideal IPR policy for your company. 



Intellectual property assets such as trademarks, patents, and more have an expiration date. Therefore, it is vital to keep track of your intellectual property. Register new IP assets quickly to avoid plagiarism.



Intellectual property rights in India still largely remain uncharted territory. It is advisable to stay on top of all the new modifications via thorough research across websites and legal academia.



Intellectual property is an intriguing and valuable asset class. Implementing intellectual property protection and enforcing a sturdy IPR policy can help companies leverage the power of their IP portfolio across revenue operations.