Note: The following article is derived from our session with Parvez Kudrolli, Senior Associate at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys, Registered Patent Agent for Startup Saturday Navi Mumbai.

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What is Intellectual Property, and why does it need protection?

IP is anything intangible that you create in your mind. IPR is the action from IP to a right that can be enforced. Critical for a startup especially, as they (usually) have nothing substantial except their intellectual property.

Types of IPR include Patents, Designs, Trademarks and Copyrights (The Big Four). (Here is a more comprehensive list)

Let’s explore the Big Four, and potential intersections in the metaphorical Venn diagram:

Patent

A patent is applicable to a product or process that is new, inventive and useful.  It protects an invention.

Criteria for being granted a patent includes:

  • No one has earlier used/ disclosed or contemplated the idea/invention anywhere in the world publicly.

The patent is granted only for the country it is filed in. However, there are international treaties ensure that once a patent is granted, worldwide priority is obtained for this patent to be filed.

The actual process takes several years, but one does get limited rights with the receipt for the application. (Send the offenders a legal notice specifying that you have filed a patent and once granted you might take legal action. This serves as an effective deterrent. Be the Harvey Specter you wish to see in the world. 😛 )

Can ideas be patented? The ideas must satisfy the given definition. A demo or prototype isn’t needed. The idea needs to be documented into text/drawings and registered with the Patent office. (More on the Indian Patent Office below.)

Design

A design application applies to a new and innovative design. (Quite literal.)

It protects industrial designs, the visual aspect.

A design registration does NOT protect the functionality, but the aesthetic (#relatable). Assume one has a design for a component, like a circuit, even though the word ‘design’ is used it is obvious that the circuit designed has a function.This means that a design registration will not protect the working, however a patent will.

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What if the design influences the functionality? For example a car, architecture of a building or blades of a fan.

Answer: File for both! Patent the functionality (the vroom) and a design registration for the design aspect. (the wow)

(*Jeremy Clarkson voice* Powwwerrrrr!!)

Copyright

A copyright protects the form of expression. It applies to literary, artistic, musical and cinematographic works, where the expression is where the substance lies.

Say song lyrics, this blog 😉 or the source code of your software!

Mind you, it does NOT apply to the idea behind item. So if someone uses the idea behind the software and codes it themselves in an entirely different manner it is not a copyright violation.

Copyright is vested in you the moment the work is created. Registration is required to make it public knowledge.

Trademark

Trademark is the association of the product/ process to a logo etc. It protects logos, catchphrases, taglines, etc.

There are benefits to registration of a trademark (similar to copyrights) but registration is not necessary.

The ‘Intellectual Property India’ website is good place to poke around for further information. It is well structured, if not a bit cluttered. They also include a public search feature for patents. (Surprisingly thoughtful. If only the process didn’t take 6-7 YEARS)

Twitter moment that captures our live-tweet:

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Gaurav from Headstart felicitating Parvez 🙂

Blog by Aishwarya Meenakshi

Also read – When to take the plunge: From Employee to Entrepreneur & Structuring a startup company.

These sessions were conducted under the theme ‘Basics of Starting Up’ on March 11, which is Part 3 in our ‘How To Startup’ Series.