Intellectual Property And Small And Medium-Sized Enterprises

Intellectual property is an umbrella term for various legal entitlements which attach to certain types of information, ideas, or other intangibles in their expressed form. The holder of this legal entitlement is generally entitled to exercise various exclusive rights in relation to the subject matter of the IP. The term intellectual property reflects the idea that this subject matter is the product of the mind or the intellect, and that IP rights may be protected at law in the same way as any other form of property.

Intellectual property laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, such that the acquisition, registration or enforcement of IP rights must be pursued or obtained separately in each territory of interest. However, these laws are becoming increasingly harmonized through the effects of international treaties such as the 1994 World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Download Property Aspects of Intellectual Property PDF Rights (TRIPs), while other treaties may facilitate registration in more than one jurisdiction at a time. Certain forms of IP rights do not require registration in order to be enforced.

Improved Intellectual Property asset management by the SMEs essentially means that SMEs consciously plan and strive to get the best result out of their IP assets in line with their business objectives. Identification of IP assets is a first step. Protection is the next, and management the last one, to effectively manage IP assets. SMEs should also learn to use the IP system specially the technical information disclosed in patent documents. Further, they need to learn the use of IP system for developing advertising and marketing proficiencies. SMEs not only need access to markets but also suitable network partners and joint ventures, management skills and credit guarantees. It is advisable to decide on foreign filing only after considering the likely demand, licensing possibilities, and enforcement difficulties but this decision should be made as early as possible. Thus, making technocrats and staff of SME aware and informed of the costs and benefits of the use of IP system, and through it, of protection of new and original ideas, is essential for reaping the benefits of improved product quality, in an increasingly competitive market place and in a knowledge-driven global economy.

Types of Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual Property Rights signifies to the bundle of exclusionary rights which can be further categorized into the following heads-

o Copyright

Copyright, one of the form of intellectual property law, offers exclusive rights for protecting the authorship of original & creative work like dramatic, musical and literary in nature. Symbolized as “©”, here the term ‘exclusive rights’ mean that the holder has the right to determine who will be credited with the work, who will perform the work and who will be benefited financially from it. However, copyright does not extend any protection to the facts, methods of operation, system, ideas except to the ways in which they can be expressed.

o Patent

A patent is termed as the exclusionary rights given by the government or the authorized authority to its inventor for a particular duration of time, in respect of his invention. It is the part of the intellectual property right, which connotes with all those rights which are granted to any person for protecting its invention, process, discovery, composition or new useful development etc. from its further usage without any authentication.

If more than two persons have jointly applied for patent license, both will own the patent separately. The original word ‘patent’ has come up from the latin term ‘patere’, which means ‘to lay open’ or ‘available for public usage’. Sometimes it is also related to the term ‘letters patent’, which marks to the royal decree granting exclusive rights to patentee. Unlike copyright, patent is not granted on giving mere suggestion or idea. An idea of mere manufacturing machine does not comes under the purview of obtaining patent.

o Trademark

The trademark or trade mark, symbolized as the ┢ and ®, is the distinctive sign or indication which is used for signifying some kind of goods or/and services and is distinctively used across the business organization or by an individual for identifying and uniquely classifying the source or their products and/or services among consumers and making a distinction of its products or services from the other entities.

One of the part of the intellectual property law, trademark signifies to the name, word, phrase, logo, image, design, symbol or combination of any or all of these elements. The trademark grants rights to the owner which in turns may take or can commence legal proceedings in case of infringement of trademark. However registration is not compulsory in trademark. The owner of common law trademark can also file the suit but in case of the unregistered mark, the protection granted will only be confined only to that geographical area within which it has been used or in that area into which it is expected to be expand.

o Trade Secrets

Trade secret points towards a formula, pattern, any instrument, design which is kept confidential and through which any business or trade can edge over its rival and can enjoy economic gain. Trade secrets can be anything from a chemical compound, manufacturing process, design or preserving materials or even a list of consumers or clients. It is also known as “confidential information” or “classified information”. To be safeguarded under trade secrets, the matter should be ‘secret’. Though the definition of trade secret is variable as per the jurisdiction but there are following elements that are found to be same –

– is not known by the public.
– provides some financial sort of gain to its holder.
– involves reasonable efforts from the holder side for maintaining secrecy.
– importance of data or information to him or for his rivals.
– the ease by which information could be learned or duplicated by others.
– Utility Model

The utility model is the intellectual property right for protecting the inventions. It is somehow described as the statutory monopoly which is bestow upon for the fixed duration of time in exchange to the inventor for the offering of the sufficient teaching of the invention and permitting the other person, possessing the ordinary skills of the relevant art, of performing the invention.

The rights granted under the utility model are somewhat identical to those conferred upon by the patent but are more considerable for using the term ‘incremental inventions’. Sometimes words like ‘petty patent’, ‘innovation patent’, ‘minor patent’ and ‘small patent’ are used in reference of the utility model. Such models are considered to be more suitable particularly for the small scale enterprises, which in turns make the ‘minor’ improvements with the adaption of the existing products. Utility models are more commonly used for the mechanical innovations.

o Geographical Indication

Geographical Indication (GI) signifies to the name or sign, used in reference to the products which are corresponding to the particular geographical area or somewhat related to the origin like town, region or nation. Thus GI grants the rights to its holder which acts as the certification mark and shows that the specified product consists of the some qualities and is enjoying good reputation due to its origin from the specified geographical location.

The Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) Agreement has defined the ‘geographical indications rights’ as the exclusionary rights for the indicator which identify the goods originated within the member nations territories, or area or region of that territory, where the reputation or other attributes of the goods is essentially related to the geographic origin of the place. Geographical indications are the part of the intellectual property law therefore like any other law the regulation and govern conditions of GI also varies from one country to another as high differences have been found out in the use of generic terms across the world. Such case is prominent for food and beverage which more commonly use the geographic terms. Geographical Indications are aimed towards identifying the source of the product and is considered as the valuable business tool.

o Industrial Design Rights

Industrial design rights are defined as the part of the intellectual property rights which confers the rights of exclusivity to the visual designs of objects which are generally not popular utilitarian. It safeguards the appearance, style, design of the industrial object such as spare parts, textiles, furniture. According to the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA), “Industrial Design (ID) is the professional service of creating and developing concepts and specifications that optimize the function, value and appearance of products and systems for the mutual benefit of both user and manufacturer.” As these designs consist of the aesthetic features therefore they do not provide any protection to the technical features of the article.

Intellectual Property for Business

In the increasingly knowledge-driven economy, intellectual property (IP) is a key consideration in day-today business decisions. New products, brands and creative designs appear almost daily on the market and are the result of continuous human innovation and creativity. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are often the driving force behind such innovations. Their
innovative and creative capacity, however, is not always fully exploited as many SMEs are not aware of the intellectual property system or the protection it can provide for their inventions, brands, and designs.

If left unprotected, a good invention or creation may be lost to larger competitors that are in a better position to commercialize the product or service at a more affordable price, leaving the original inventor or creator without any financial benefit or reward. Adequate protection of a company’s intellectual property is a crucial step in deterring potential infringement and in turning ideas into business assets with a real market value. Taking full advantage of the IP system enables companies to profit from their innovative capacity and creativity, which encourages and helps fund further innovation.

To help SMEs more fully utilize their IP assets in their business activities, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has established a program to assist entrepreneurs, SME-support institutions, and national governments in increasing awareness and use of the IP system among SMEs across the globe.

Enhancing Competitiveness through IP Protection

Many new products or services embody intellectual property in a number of ways. Forward looking enterprises face the challenge of extracting this latent value and using it effectively in their business strategy. Companies that dedicate time and resources to protecting their intellectual property can increase their competitiveness in a variety of areas. Intellectual property
protection will help in:

o preventing competitors from copying or closely imitating a company’s products or services;
o avoiding wasteful investment in research and development (R&D) and marketing
o creating a corporate identity through a trademark and branding strategy
o negotiating licensing, franchising or other IP-based contractual agreements
o increasing the market value of the company
o acquiring venture capital and enhancing access to finance
o obtaining access to new markets

In addition, a careful search for conflicting existing IP rights, and the examination of applications by IP Offices can help an enterprise to avoid conflicts and unnecessary litigation.

Effective IP Management

Effective IP management enables companies to use their intellectual property to improve their competitiveness and strategic advantage. Acquiring IP protection is a crucial initial step, but effective IP management means more than just protecting an enterprise’s inventions, trademarks, designs, or copyright. It also involves a company’s ability to commercialize such inventions, market its brands, license its know-how to other companies, conclude joint ventures and other contractual agreements involving IP, and effectively monitor and enforce its intellectual property rights.

Indeed, a company’s portfolio of IP must be viewed as a collection of key assets that add significant value to the enterprise. SMEs can also benefit from the wealth of technological and commercial information available in patent and trademark databases to learn about recent technological breakthroughs, identify future partners, and find out about the innovative activities of competitors. Managing IP effectively and using it to devise business strategies is an increasingly critical task for entrepreneurs worldwide.

The Challenge Ahead

Insufficient information on the relevance of IP in day-to-day business, high costs associated with obtaining and enforcing IP rights, perceptions that the IP system is esoteric, too cumbersome and time-consuming: These are among the reasons why many SMEs are sometimes slow to protect their intellectual property. As an international intergovernmental organization dedicated to promoting the creation, use, and protection of intellectual property worldwide, WIPO draws upon its experience and expertise in IP-related issues to help its Member States to overcome these obstacles and take better advantage of the IP system. Given the importance of SMEs to the
economies of all nations – they constitute some 90 percent of all enterprises worldwide and
account for more than 70 percent of the production of goods and services – effective use by
SME’s of IP assets is a key factor in ongoing economic development.

Main Objectives

WIPO’s SME initiative aims to:

o Encourage SMEs to more effectively use IP as part of their business strategy;
o Promote a greater use of the intellectual property system by SMEs;
o Strengthen the capacity of national governments to develop strategies, policies and
o programs to meet the intellectual property needs of SMEs;
o Improve the capacity of relevant public, private and civil society institutions, such as
business and industry associations, to provide IP-related services to SMEs;
o Provide comprehensive web-based information and basic advice on IP issues to SME

support organizations worldwide.

WIPO’s SME Activities

o WIPO is identifying existing programs and activities designed to enhance SME competitiveness at national, regional and international levels to help assess the needs of SMEs, identify and disseminate information on best practices, and forge partnerships with appropriate institutions. Cooperation with these institutions and strengthening their IP component is a key focus of WIPO’s SME program.

o WIPO’s outreach activities include distance learning programs, distribution of publications, self-help kits, pilot training workshops, web-based dissemination of information, press campaigns, and direct support to business associations in their own outreach activities.

o Information on the role of intellectual property rights in the overall business strategy of an enterprise are presented from a managerial perspective, with an emphasis on the role of patents in product development strategy, as well as the use of trademarks, designs and geographical indications as marketing tools.

Workshops, seminars, and information materials focus on:

– Introduction to IP concepts from a business perspective
– IP management for business success
– Use of patent and trademark data as a source of technological and commercial
– Exploitation of IP assets through licensing, franchising, technological alliances and joint ventures

To conclude we can say that Intellectual property rights help in providing exclusive rights to creator or inventor, thereby induces them to distribute and share information and data instead of keeping it confidential. It provides legal protection and offers them incentive of their work. Rights granted under the intellectual property act helps in socio and economic development. Intellectual property protection is the key factor for economic growth and advancement in the high technology sector. They are good for business, benefit the public at large and act as catalysts for technical progress.


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