Start-ups are companies founded by forward looking individuals and dynamic entrepreneurs in search of scalable and repeatable business models. It is a nascent and a new business venture with the primary objective of developing a viable business model to meet newly emerging market place needs and addressing their problems.
Start-ups start with ideas nurtured by hard work and launched in a manner which results in quick and constant growth. Understanding Intellectual Property issues and legal ramifications is of utmost importance for start-ups to ensure their survival, growth and progress. A deep understanding of IPR is sine quo non-if they are not to be nipped in the bud. Start-ups have to be protected from the sharks who steal away the original ideas, inventions, the labours of creativity and the like. In today’s world IPRs major components include copyrights, trademark rights, industrial property, patents, geographical indications, plant varieties, industrial designs, layout designs of integrated circuits and the like.
Every start-up is particularly based on a novel idea and proper practice of one such idea is what transforms small start-ups into multibillion-dollar corporation. An example in the case is Thomas Eddison, the American Inventor and business man instrumental in developing many devices in fields such as electricity generation, sound recordings, motion pictures and many other fields. Today we are basking in the glory of landmark inventions like the electric bulb, etc. due to preservation of the inventions through IP. Some of the recent examples could be of Apple as developed by Steve Jobs. The core of IP Laws lies in protecting the idea or concepts that defines your start-up. An IP is actually an asset to your company and enhances your commercial value as a well-defined and well IP protected start-up attracts more investors and gradually more business.
Intellectual property laws provide a protective umbrella in avoiding infringement claims against the start-ups. An important component of IP protection includes searches regarding similar inventions or trademarks already prevailing in the public domain. Tracking such companies or individuals can insulate the start-ups from financial crises later due to patent or copyright infringements. The heavy investments in the companies would be negated and siphoned off due to high stake lawsuits.
IP goes a long way in preempting other companies and stopping them encashing upon the goodwill of start-ups. An IP protection is guaranteed by a registration certification which acts as a notice to public that a software, logo or a patent belongs to you. Before using an IP, other companies or individuals should first check the IP India website and database to see if a similar idea is already in use.
After successfully registering a patent, copyright or a trademark, an obvious presumption is created that an idea or property belongs to its holder. This gives the start-up an advantage in an infringement law suit as the IP registration will create a presumption in favor the holder in the legal proceedings.
Not protecting one’s novel idea or software which forms the core of the start-up could jeopardize the entire venture. An IP protection ensures stability and security to investors as they prefer investing in a start-up which is having a well-developed IP strategy.
If a start-up idea is based on an open source software, then the owner of such software should secure IP protection by way of copyright. Since open source software is generally free and offers expeditious development, the developer must ensure IP protection so that the start-up proprietary rights over the software are not lost.
Trade Secret Protection under IP Law helps startups to protect confidential information. It has been used to protect one of the most valuable secrets of the world including the Coca Cola recipe and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). Thus, a start-up should enter into a written agreement with its employees and establish full-proof security protocols.
Safeguarding Intellectual Property which includes using copyrights, trademarks, and patents is much easier during infancy than protecting after that idea has fructified into a full blown success. IP protection not only prevents others from infringing or profiting from your business but also helps in attracting investors, suppliers, partners and more business as this form of protection offers more security with potential success.
Understanding of the copyright and its related laws would be essential in protecting the literary work, artistic and musical works, the computer software programmers and the works of architecture. It is essential for preserving monumental works like the famous David, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Taj Mahal, and other monuments down the ages.
The works of Shakespear, Tolstoy, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling and the like are also the Progenies of Copyrights whether in the legalistic terms or in the literal practical terms.
Start-ups need to develop an international perspective of geographical indications. They need to follow the dictates of the Paris Convention for protection of industrial property. The convention refers to the protections not as Geographical indications but as indications of source.
Then, Article 1(2) of the Lisbon Agreement mandates that member countries should provide protection to the appellations of origin of the products manufactured in other member countries.
Then, Section 3 of the TRIPS AGREEMENT deals exclusively with Geographical Indications. The ultimate objective of the agreement is to prevent misuse of the benefits of Geographical Indications. IP relating to Geographical indication is helpful in protecting products like Darjeeling Tea, Scotch Whisky, the Paris perfume, the Basmati Rice, the Swiss Chocolate, Banaras Silk and other products centralized to territories, regions or countries.
Further, India has Bio Diversity and protection against Bio-Piracy is of utmost importance. Awareness of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which was signed at Rio in 1992 is indispensable for start-ups with related products. Apart from conservation of biological diversity, the CBD aims at fair and equitable benefits arising out of utilization of genetic resources and transfer of technology.