“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker
Innovation and entrepreneurship are the most common buzz words today. One can clearly see the energy, enthusiasm of young talents raring to plunge into entrepreneurial ventures in Indian start up ecosystems. Whether it is a post doctoral researcher in IISc thinking about starting a company based on a brilliant idea of 3D printing technology or a fresh engineering graduate fuelling his renewable energy project for his start up, or a yoga therapist ready to go global with her brand, all are proficient in their respective fields. It is a privilege to associate with such diverse, creative and brilliant entrepreneurial ventures. While it is important for an entrepreneur to follow her passion, initiative, commitment to the idea and dedication to her venture, it is also equally important to starting up right. Protection of Intellectual property(IP) is a valuable business asset for a start up. Irrespective of nature of business, IP provides both business value and competitive advantage for a company. IP policy should be ingrained by design into company strategies as the business develops. Succeeding in the marketplace with your idea is a journey- a continuous process. You need to think and follow some strategies for successfully building an enterprise. Here is what you need to know while starting your venture if you are new to the business world.
Choosing a business name:
1) Company name and Trademark: Trademark is a mark capable of being represented graphically and is capable of distinguishing your goods or services from others. A mark could be: Brand (Example: BPL), Device (refers to pictorial representation. Example: CoCa-Cola), Name (Example: TATA), Letter (Example: IBM, GM), Word (Example: LIFEINTELECT, INFOSYS) and so on. Think long and think deep about your business name. A name that will last long because rebranding is expensive and stressful. Choose a name which will embody your values, stand out and communicate your identity to your consumers. You should avoid generic or descriptive phrases as your company name. For example, “Laptop Service”, ‘The Solar Panel” etc. Arbitrary and coined names are considered as stronger mark and are entitled to greater protection. For example, “Yahoo’ for internet service, “Kodak” for camera etc.
2) Company name for Limited Liability Company: If you are planning for Limited Liability Company, you need to check the availability of names with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Registrar of Companies.
3) Your web presence: A company’s website can be a great tool for promoting business. You will need to work with an available web domain and register your company domain name with a web hosting company.
Please note that all these three bodies function independent of each other. So before choosing your company name you need to check the availability of names with all three.
Understand your industry’s best IP practices:
Protecting your intellectual property through patents, trademarks, designs, copyrights, technical know-how and other tactics creates a legal fencing necessary to safeguard your idea, builds a cushion of competitive advantage and helps in fund raising. Despite being expensive, it is necessary to build a strong IP portfolio. And that should be adequately funded and managed well.
Before creating the IP road map for your company, it is imperative to know how your industry deals with intellectual property. For example, in biotechnology, pharmaceutical and telecommunication industry, products stay on the market for decades. That suggests start-ups in these sectors need bulletproof IP and patent protection from the beginning. However, retail industry, consumer device and manufacturing sectors have a shorter product life-cycle. So, the best strategy used by these industries is to file late in the product-development process, and may also benefit from the use of different IP policies such as trade secrets and confidentiality agreements.
Start the IP protection process early:
Whatever may be the IP strategy you follow for your business, you need to understand, plan and execute them from the beginning. If you have a big idea for a product or process, it is always good to know the possible options to protect the idea. Talk to an IP consultant and do some research at an early stage. Believe me, many times it helps a lot in iteration and proof of concept phase, and aid your innovation process. If patenting early is best, search out an IP firm in the beginning. Already years in business but don’t have IP policies to protect your valuable ideas or brand? Get started now. In the present day knowledge economy, IP protection should not be at the bottom of your to-do-list. Additionally know that, for industrial design and patent protection, the subject matter has to be new & novel. So, you need to file for patent protection or design registration before making any public disclosure.
Every business is different and every industry requirements are different. So an IP strategy of a company depends on technology, funding, consumer base, product life cycle and stages of company. Success in market place depends on several factors, and if you don’t plan for success from the beginning you are almost certainly planning to fail. You should have immediate, short-term, intermediate and long-term strategies for IP protection and innovation.
— Lipika Sahoo
–This post is the first in an upcoming series of articles on “Entrepreneurship and IP”.–
Disclaimer: The materials in the blog are solely for the purposes of informing, assisting and educating the readers and are not in anyway a substitute for professional opinion or advice. They do not constitute legal advice or legal opinion or solicitation.
Dr. Lipika Sahoo, Founder & CEO of Lifeintelect Consultancy Pvt. Ltd., a registered Indian Patent Agent having 16 years of experience in academia and industry. She holds a Ph.D from Indian Institute of Science (IISc). She holds triple masters; MSc from Sambalpur University; PGDIPR from National Law School of India University (NLSIU); PGCBM from Xavier Institute of management (XIMB); and advanced certifications from World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Patents and Patent Drafting. Dr. Lipika is also an inventor and passionate about technology & innovation; likes music, history & architecture.
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