Anubhav Kapoor, General Counsel and Company Secretary, Tata Technologies
India is fast emerging as a hub for the manufacturing of cost effective products or services. It also stands at an advantageous position due to ever increasing demand from the local population and low production cost. Despite the sentiment that India still has long way to go on account of its laws, regulations and implementation, a number of overseas originators have accessed and many others are keen to access the Indian talent. The Indian talent is also appreciated widely because of its creativity and out of the box thinking within the available resources. In parallel, initiatives like ‘Startup India’ and ‘Make in India’ are shielded with ‘Creative India: Innovative India’.
Intellectual Property (IP), alike human creativity and innovations surrounds us completely. Every single product or service that we use in our daily lives is the result of a series of innovations, such as some are molded into designs, or some are improved by adding some essence to make a product look or function the way it does today.
It has been seen that the life of an organization is very challenging as there are many competitors playing in the market. Every organization strives to innovate creative products or services in order to excel in the market. This will help them to deliver greater value to the users and customers than the products offered by their competitors. To differentiate from the competitors every organization relies on new creative innovation that reduces their production cost and/or improves quality of products or services.
In the current knowledge driven economy, any organization, is regularly using and creating a great deal of IP as an intangible asset, irrespective of what the organization deals in. This being the case, it becomes important to systematically consider the steps required for protecting, managing and enforcing it, so as to get the best possible commercial results from its ownership. IP assists any business enterprise in almost every aspect of development and competitive strategy; from product development to product design, from service delivery to marketing and from raising financial resources to exporting or expanding the business abroad through licensing or franchising.
The role of IP in an organization can differ depending upon the different factors such as the markets, types of IP used, stage of business evolution, business models, or may be the awareness of its leaders or managers who deals in IP for an organization. These factors are classified as internal or external. For example, maturity of business can be an internal factor where if there is a product saturation then there is a need for an internal due diligence.
Patenting innovative products or processes in a business provides exclusive rights to use and exploit the invention, higher returns on investments and opportunity to sell or license the invention. This helps any organization for encouraging the disclosure of detailed and practical technical information to the public, thereby increasing the public’s access to state-of-the-art technical knowledge. Without the protection afforded by patent rights, an inventor may choose to keep the details of an invention secret; and can create an incentive and reward system for investment in R&D for more and better inventions and technological innovation. There is an increasing need to patent the inventions and legally secure them to exploit effectively for the well being of the inventor and society as a whole.
Most companies have aspects of their business which are protected by copyright. Examples include: computer programs or software; content on websites; product catalogues; newsletters; instruction sheets or operating manuals for machines or consumer products; user, repair or maintenance manuals for various types of equipment; artwork and text on product literature, labels or packaging; and marketing and advertising materials on paper, billboards, websites, and so on. In most countries, copyright also protects sketches, drawings or designs of manufactured products.
Trademarks, an IP, promote initiative measures and enterprise worldwide by rewarding the owners with recognition and financial profit. The protection conferred by it, hinders the efforts of unfair competitors and hence enables people with skill to produce and market goods and services in the fairest possible conditions thereby facilitating international trade. Brand Management plays a crucial role in generating the revenues. It is as much as science as it is an art. Similarly, protection of industrial designs and geographical indications help to ensure a fair return in investment, improve competitiveness of a business against copying and imitating by competitors and helps to increase the commercial value of a company as these constitute business assets.
Patents, copyrights, trademarks, industrial designs and other objects of IP protection can be powerful tools for creating value for your business. However, they will not live up to those expectations if they sit passively on some register. They must be used and used creatively, pro-actively and with imagination.
Successfully leveraging a company’s IP can have the important benefits of increasing a company’s net profits and boosting the overall stockholders’ valuation of the business. Ultimately, the combination of IP rights and methods that a company relies on will depend upon that company’s goals and strategies, all of which are subject to continuous adjustment and review.