Understanding the critical aspect of intellectual property rights to protect your product or service is very important for a startup. You often pay more limited attention to intellectual property rights (IPR), which may create unlimited problems for your business in the future. You need to think about the IPR for your product or service right from the start.
While establishing a business, if you’re going to create artistic work or it’s literary or something in writing, music, brand, or even designs, these are all intellectual properties capable of monetization and must be protected for business growth.
Protection and Monetization are the most critical aspects, and it is essential to take legal advice to understand your intellectual property obligation.
As an entrepreneur, you should be aware of the following question:
1. Why should you protect your intellectual property?
2. Are you using somebody else’s intellectual property by mistake?
You already know the necessity of IP protection, but understanding not influencing someone else’s property is equally crucial for any business. Make sure to take advice from a lawyer or consultant to protect your IP and avoid IP infringement.
Well, you must be thinking that what in the world is intellectual property?
Let’s clear the confusion by understanding the four common types of IPRs.
A trademark can be registered for a corporate logo, a slogan, a brand, or simply the name of a product. Let’s say you are going to start a beverage company, and you name it “Cypor.” You need to protect this brand and its products so that no one else can use the same name.
Can you protect “Cypor” by registering your trademark? Yes! You can.
You should ask your lawyers to get it registered for a trademark so that nobody else can use it without your permission, and if someone uses it, you can stop them.
However, Trademarking has ambiguous boundaries because it prohibits any trademarks that have a “likelihood of confusion” with an existing one. For example, few would think of opening a cafe and naming it Cafe Coffee Day or using a similar logo. Using its name or logo will infringe intellectual property rights. You cannot thus, use an insignia or brand name if it looks similar, sounds similar, or has the same meaning to registered one—especially if your product or service is related.
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The second underlying intellectual property that you should know about is Copyright. You can have Copyright for your artistic work, literary work, music, or any other content. Copyright is a broader intellectual property, and it’s a slightly more ambiguous or vague than trademark.
Let’s understand this by an example. When an author writes a book, he automatically gets Copyright for that book. The publisher who publishes the book also gets Copyright for the same, but the author also retains certain ownership.
To get the Copyright for your work, you can put a copyright symbol or an ownership statement so that everyone recognizes that this is a protected copyright work, and can’t use it without your permission. Unlike a trademark, copyright registration is not compulsory for protection.
The third intellectual property right is Patent, which is for novel inventions. The procedure to get patent protection is very complicated. Unless you have created something new, novel, and inventive, you can’t get patent protection. The most common examples that can be protected by Patent are Machines, Pharmaceutical Products, electronics products, software, etc.
Ask your lawyer whether you can get patent protection for your product, and once you get it from the patent office, your product gets protected for 20 years. No one can use or copy it without your permission unless you license it out.
Your computer can be an excellent example to understand this. Every small chip in your computer is somebody’s invention and is licensed to the computer manufacturers who then pay huge license fees. You also need to know about the inventions that can’t get patent protection. For example, you can’t patent software programs in India. Since the software program is a written code, you can get copyright protection for it.
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Design is also an intellectual property, and it’s related to tangible products. A perfect example is Pepsi bottle. Since it has design protection, nobody else can use it. Like Patent, under this protection, you have a monopoly on using that design for a similar period. So, if your startup is developing a product that has a unique design, you need to consult your lawyer, whether it can be design protected or not.
Now you have a fair understanding of intellectual property rights (IPRs) and their most common types. There are many permutations and combinations involved in the IPR registration, which you should definitely check with your lawyer. Like other legal matters, IPRs will also be the point of concern for investors. They will be very interested in knowing what intellectual property you are developing and, more importantly, when they invest. So, you need to understand and protect your intellectual property when you are building your firm.