When something new and innovative is created, the inventor has the right to protect it. Inventors can register their creations as intellectual properties by filing for an IP that enables them to avail sole monopoly over their creations. Traditionally, IP is categorized as industrial property and copyright, wherein the former is used in the context of patents, industrial designs and trademarks, and the latter is used in the context of protecting literary creations, artistic works, musical works etc. As such, the right to protect IP entails the exclusive rights provided to the innovator or creator. IP rights denote the legal rights provided to the creator and not the IP itself. It is necessary to understand the meaning of IP rights and be aware of the steps taken to protect them.
While talking about protecting intellectual property rights, it is first necessary to understand the importance of registering one. When an individual or an organization develops a new product, which involves a lot of processes, content, resources etc., a lot of time and money is invested. It is natural for the inventor or organization to have the expectation of being able to own exclusive rights over the invention, while excluding others from benefiting from it. This exclusivity is provided through IP systems and IP laws. Although it is not mandatory to register an IP or trademark, it provides the inventor certain advantages including the prima facie ownership proof that enables the owner to enforce IP right in a court of law, if deemed necessary.
There are several dangers of not protecting your intellectual property. For instance, not protecting IP can result in an individual or organization using and benefiting from the unprotected invention in an unauthorized manner. There is no law that can stop one from duplicating and seeking monetary benefits from someone else’s innovation, if IP is not filed. Furthermore, it falls upon the owner to prove the ownership of the IP in a court of law, if the IP is unregistered. If a trademark remains unprotected the court cannot help the inventor since it is not possible to claim proprietorship and/ or sue for infringement.
It is essential to protect intellectual property rights. Firstly, inventors get exclusive monopoly to use their IP to their benefits – both in terms of usage as well as monetary benefits. The inventor can decide the price of the invention, the marketing and distribution channels and innumerable ways to turn a profit and earn a high return on investment. Secondly, filing for IP allows the inventor to prohibit other from making monetary benefits. Thirdly, if a competitor violates the IP laws that protect the inventors, the inventor can exercise the right to file a court case against the party attempting to benefit from the invention. If found guilty, the court may award a financial reward to the inventor, to be paid by the individual or entity attempting to gain financial benefits from the invention attributed to the owner of the IP. As such, IP rights are essential because they provide inventors the incentive to keep innovating and benefitting from their inventions.
Protecting IP is a complicated process that involves IP registration, followed by a long, due process of corroborating the authenticity of the creation. The process – from registering IP to being granted the patent, trademark, copyright or utility design involves a lot of research on the part of the individual or entity granting the IP. The entity granting the IP is required to ensure that the creation is original and authentic and not lifted from another innovation. It involves publishing the new creations in IP journals to fact-check any other individual or entity claiming IP rights against the same or similar creations. The entire process – from registering to acquiring IP rights – can take anywhere between a few months to many years and includes various rounds of corrections on the part of the inventor.
As is evident, it is important to file for IP as it protects intellectual property rights of the inventor. As an inventor, you need to be aware of the laws governing the protection of IP rights in India as well as in foreign countries. This simply means that the fact-checker will also check if the IP you are filing in India has been registered abroad as part of the IP granting process. These facts are checked under the International Protection for Patents Agreement and various treaties including the Industrial Property & Patent Cooperation Treaty (Paris Convention, 1883), the International protection under the Berne Convention, 1886, International filing through Hague Agreement and the International Protection through “Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin” etc. While the process of filing IP may seem long and tedious, the end result is indeed gratifying.