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Back to blog - INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS - The Basics, Everyone Should Know by Shruti K Shah

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS - The Basics, Everyone Should Know by Shruti K Shah

Hello readers!

Let me first congratulate Dr. Manisha Vaja for having such a wonderful vision to support women and provide them this very useful and innovative platform “Her Expertise” to make their dream a reality. I met her during one seminar last year and during our discussion, she encouraged me to share some valuable information on Intellectual Property Right(IPR) Laws for women entrepreneurs and I take this as an immense pleasure to spread a word of knowledge for this wonderful cause.

I agree with Dr. Manisha Vaja that women are more keen, passionate and dedicated when it comes to work and can be successful in any field she chooses. I wish every woman gets a chance to prove her dreams and capabilities and I heartily congratulate those who have with utmost courage achieved or have started to pursue their dreams. A small contribution towards this noble cause, I would like to share few information about the IPR laws and I hope it would be helpful to you all.

When we dream of a profession or an enterprise, we work on properties like land, office/shop, equipment, funds and whole lot of other stuff. However, very few of us know the importance of IPR laws and give a due weightage to them. Therefore, please go through below information and check whether your IPRs are property protected or not.

What is an Intellectual Property Right?

As the words itself express –

INTELLECTUAL: creative, born out of human mind’s efforts and hard work

PROPERTY: that you possess or own, asset

RIGHT: claim, privilege, entitlement, permission (here, it is a legal right to own, to use, to exploit fully and to restrain others from using what you own)

Thus, Intellectual Property Right means your legal right or ownership on what you create using your creativity, knowledge and intellect. It is a bundle of rights which you own and hence, in a nature of intangible property.

The human Being is gifted with the quality of thinking and is always trying to find out solutions to problems making life more luxurious and easy. New ideas and innovations keep on emerging in every possible way in science and technology to literature and art and in every other field. Such innovations and creations are called Intellectual Property and shortly known as IP or IPR.

Such rights are given by the Government to promote and encourage new inventions and creativity. Since an innovator/creator puts lot of hard work and funds to create something, it is his/her right to use the invention for some specific period exclusively or in monopoly to recover the funds and gain profits for the hard work he/she did.

You might have heard that need is mother of invention. Inventions and creativity helps our life become more easy and enjoyable. Imagine if wheel would have not been invented, how our life would have been as wheels encouraged people to create many more utilities like cycles, cars etc. Thus, one invention promotes another and thereby leading to better products/processes making our life better and easier. Such new, novel, industrial useful inventions are given rights called PATENT.

Similarly, imagine if there were no movies, music, paintings, books how boring life would have been! Like inventions make life easier, creative expressions make life enjoyable. Such creative expressions are protected as COPYRIGHTS.

Now imagine you go for shopping in a mall, all products are of same size, with same plain packaging. How difficult it would have been to find the exact product of your choice? Now think this way, if you are selling some products and you want people to buy your products and not of others, how would you define your products without a brand/ name/ symbol/logo/ emblem? Brand is an identity which indicates origin of products/services and provides some information regarding the products based on your past experiences or based on the reputation or image of the owner in the market by way of its past product history. They are selected and used by a merchant to identify its origin as well as to differentiate its products among others in the market. It also helps to market and promote the products easily. Brand helps to create an impression, image, memory in the minds of the customers and attracts the buyers to buy such products. Such brands/names/symbol/logo/ emblem are called TRADEMARK.

Have you bought some product just because it had an attractive design or appealing features/looks? That is called INDUSTRIAL DESIGNS i.e. shape of goods, configuration or ornamental outer look of products.

When we buy any goods/services, what attracts us is its usefulness, unique, memorable brand, reputation of brand, attractive design of products etc. Thus, we are surrounded by brands, copyrights, patents and designs which affect our decisions of buying. Therefore, as an entrepreneur, whether you sell goods or provide services, you cannot ignore the importance of IPR in your business.

PATENT, COPYRIGHT, TRADEMARK, INDUSTRIAL DESIGNS are different forms of Intellectual Property Rights/ IPRs. There are few less known forms of Intellectual Property Rights also. Such as Collective marks, Certification marks, geographical indications, plant varieties, trade secrets, integrated circuits and layouts [remember that green chips in computers?].

Which IPR do you own?

Is IPR only for big business? The answer is NO. No matter how small an enterprise or firm is, there is some IPR owned by it. So now just check from the below list and find what do you own?

Subject property

Protection under which law

Company or firm name

Trademark

Brand and Logo

Trademark

Tag line, punch line, slogan etc.

Trademark

Product wrapper (including its artistic design, colour combination etc.)

Trademark & Copyrights

Shape of Goods/ Unique innovative product design

Trademark & Industrial Design

Colours, colour combinations, used to distinguish goods

Trademarks

Smells or Sounds applied to a product to make it different from others

Trademarks

Unique Food recipes

Copyright as a book or Trade Secret

Unique way of doing business or unique information and knowledge of working of business

Trade Secret

Website name

Domain name, Trademark

 

Website as a whole

Copyrights

Mobile Applications 

Mostly Copyrights & Patents (in some cases)

Software or computer programs

Mostly Copyright & Patent (in some cases)

Business Data, Compilation of Data

Copyright & Trade Secret

Customers, supplier’s names and addresses and other important information

Trade Secret

Informative Booklet, promotional brochure, designs of advertisement hoardings or magazine advertisement’s designing and content

Copyrights

Musical piece for advertisement

Trademark & Copyrights

Advertisement film

Copyright

Unique inventive process or product

Patent

Product from a specific region having some specialty or quality or reputation attributed due to that region

Geographical Indication

Literature such as Books, Blogs, articles, song lyrics etc.

Copyrights

Music and sound recordings

Copyrights

Cinematographic film

Copyrights

Names or Titles of Movie

Trademarks

Paintings, Sculptures and other artistic works

Copyrights

Photographs

Copyrights

 Do you have adequate protection for your IPR?

Now some will think, why should IPR be protected or registered? Well, like any other property, well maintained IPR is an asset to any business. In needs, such assets can be sold to liquidate money; given on license to someone to use (for example Franchisee) and earn royalty or mortgaged [hypothecated] to banks to take loans (in some cases). There are many other benefits of well-developed IP Rights.

For adequate protection, one should not only get it registered, but should also get timely renewals; should take quick actions against imitators as well as use your IPR in right manner. During business transactions and dealing with employees, third parties like dealers, Franchisees, contract manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, etc. a proper written agreement regarding IPR ownership is necessary for better clarity and to avoid future disputes.

Benefit of Registration of IPR

1.     Registration is prima facie proof of ownership

2.     For some forms of IPR, No registration- No protection

3.     Adds value to business

4.     Increase goodwill of business

5.     Makes marketing and promotion easy

6.     Reduces competition from the market

7.     Gives an advantage among other competitors in market

8.     Makes easy to take action against imitators

9.     Warning to others not to imitate

No World-Wide Registration

IPRs are territorial rights and one should apply in each country where it wishes to protect any form of IPR. In case of Trademarks and Patents, one can file international application which helps in applying in many countries in single application, though registrations are granted by individual countries.

Use of TM and ®

® indicates registered trademark and use of ® without registration is fraud and punishable under the law

TM indicates unregistered trademark.

Some useful Tips:

1.     Think out of the box, think creative, think innovative and give your product/service/business a different dimension and stand out in market.

2.     Only registering a company name at Registrar of Companies or Registrar of Firms is not adequate to protect your company/firm/ entity name. Similarly, only registration of domain name is also not adequate protection. Therefore, also register the company/ firm name/domain name as Trademark.

3.     Select a company name/ firm name/ brand name which is different from others.

4.     Select a strong trademark/brand i.e. different from others and should not directly indicate kind/quality/purpose of use etc. of product/service that you are offering. Make your own identity.

5.     Conduct a prior search [in market, on google and on IPR office data bases] before adopting and using any form of IPR and secure that your use does not amount infringement of any third party’s rights.

6.     While dealing with third parties or employees or partners, always clear in writing as to who owns IPR [Generally, in case of Patent, Copyrights, brand, the creator is the owner in absence of any written agreements.]

7.     From the logo designer, website or mobile application or software developer getting a written assignment of all IP rights in your favour and getting a warranty that the work created by developer does not infringe any third party’s rights is advisable for better clarity and future use.

8.     Never use someone else’s IPR without permission.

9.     Use confidentiality agreements to protect your IPR.

10. Keep record of your IP rights, forms of IP owned, application numbers, status, registration details etc. It helps manage IPR in effective manner.

11. Keep periodic check/ audit of IPR to ensure effective protection, renewal, follow ups etc.

12. Investigate about insurance policy which protects IPR. There are some policies which cover litigation costs also.

Educate yourself, be aware. Innovate, create, protect, exploit, progress and prosper. Wish you good luck!

About Expert :

Shruti K Shah is an Advocate, IPR Lawyer, writer, guest lecturer and proprietor of a Law Firm, SKShah Legal Services, which is based at Ahmedabad, India. She has done B. Com, LL.B and LL.M and has 12 years of experience in the IPR Laws and practice.

More details on her and her law firm can be found from her website www[dot]skshahlegal[dot]com. She can be reached at M-9898617053| Email: skshahlegal[at the rate]yahoo[dot]com

 

Publised On: Dec 14, 2016


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