Every business is different. When you run your own business, you will have intellectual property associated with your company and brand, which need to be protected to benefit the interests of your company.
These include the name and symbols associated with your company and brand, inventions and unique creations, images and more. With the advent of the digital age, hackers and online scammers are on the rise, making it essential that you understand the risks associated with not protecting your IP in India.
Here’s a 6-step rule for protecting your Intellectual Property (IP):
1. Understand the protection your company needs:
Protecting the name and identification of your company is crucial, but you may also have products and/or services that may be unique to your brand. So,how do you decide what needs protection?
This part may require you to get some professional help because patents, trademarks and designs are all distinctive in nature. Codes, programs and designs all count as intellectual property and can be patented to protect them from infringement.
Product patent for food, medicines, drugs and chemicals.
Filing for patents is not mandatory and not having such protection does not make you liable for punishment for not having these rights, although a competitor could file for the same patents first. The first person to file for patent rights is usually granted the rights under Indian law. The first and true inventor or a person on his or her behalf can also file for patent rights.
2. Maintain, development and check for originality
After figuring out what intellectual property needs to be protected, you need to make sure your designs, representation and content are not already in use by another party. Trademark searches and patent searches are useful in understanding this. Trademark and patent registrationis easily available online.
3. Clearly mention ownership of IPR in your contracts
Make sure that your employee contract clearly mentions that the ownership of intellectual property belongs to your company. The contract should also mention that if any Intellectual property is created by an employee who has been working for the company during work hours, then such property shall belong to the owner or employer.
Sometimes, you may grant a third party or a vendor access to your IP rights. A non-disclosure agreement should be included in a vendor agreement/client agreement, etc. which must be signed by all the parties also helps in protecting your brand from third parties or vendors disclosing personal sensitive IP information to others.
4. Ensure Copyright and Trademark Protection
Any creator of work (literary, films and broadcast, art, sound recordings, etc.) can use copyrights to protect such work.
Understand the usage of the copyright or trademark symbols, especially the materials that already falls under your copyright protection (if any), and use the symbol and date of creation wherever seems fit. In the eyes of the company, a customer or client associates a product based on aesthetics, quality, standard, etc. which is indicated by the copyright symbol.
Copyright in India is governed by the Copyright Act, 1957 and Copyright Rules and it applies to symbols, designs, images and content. Copyright registration is voluntary in India because anything created is automatically attributed to the creator and protected.
If you do decide to copyright your IP, then it is essential to note that a copyright must be obtained for each element (image, blog, article, etc.) used. The word or symbol copyright must be applied along with the date of creation and the title of the author to ensure copyright.
5. Continuing and overseas protection
As long as costs are justified, always pursue breaches and take action against copyright offenses. If your company has a reach outside of India, ensure your copyrights are protected overseas as well.
Copyrights and patents can be bought, sold and licensed which give rise to monetary value. No two companies can hold the same trademark or copyright, but ownership can be transferred.
A patent is valid in India for 20 years and can be renewed after its expiry. Copyscape is an effective tool to check if any of your online content or IP has been infringed upon.
If a user has infringed upon your Intellectual property, then you can issue a takedown notice for infringement of copyrighted content asking them to remove the content or face legal action. Apart from these, you may also be required to obtain takedown notice, Digital Millennium Copyright Act Notice (DMCA), earnings disclaimer, external links policy, etc.
We, at MyLegalWork, urge you to legally claim what you own. Pursuing a patent or a breach, is not a quick process in India. You need to be ahead of the game and have all your IP protected from day one of your company's functioning.