This post was first published on May 22nd, 2012.
Value of IP, notional or real, is well recognized in India today. Thanks to the efforts of the government, many people know about patents and processes related to them. After so many training and awareness programs, one would imagine that small enterprises are IP savvy and their house is in order. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case in ninety-nine percent of such entities.
On taking a quick peek at these companies, any IP professional with the ordinary understanding of business will note that awareness of IP is limited to patents and many small and even large enterprises do not see the value of other forms such as trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights, designs and so on. Therefore, an integrated IP strategy is missing in most of them.
Despite the awareness efforts and government support in the form of funding, steps have not been taken by most companies to protect their inventions. Daily pressures, lack of support systems, time-intensive nature of work and lack of value were some of the reasons other than high expenditure that came to light.
Most enterprises did invest time and money after the initial learning but the results from investment were either zero or negative. The lack of business understanding and one-sided approach of many attorneys did not help their cause. The result, wasted time and money, and no business value.
The dimensions of business value from IP, building strong IP that has the quality to gain competitive advantage and plan on reaping benefits was never propagated or considered. Small enterprises cannot afford to invest in a hundred patents and wait for returns on one to compensate for their efforts. They had to act smart but that did not happen in most cases and today, we are left with sad stories of wasteful IP investment.
The risk was never a serious point of concern either for policymakers or for enterprises. While funding is available for filing for patents from many departments, very little or no support is available for risk assessment. Though infringement actions by large companies against small enterprises are not so common today, it is becoming an increasingly serious point of concern. Despite who was right, most actions have been settled in favor of larger companies with economic scale and resources.
These and many other reasons have put small enterprises on the back foot when it comes to IP culture and business benefits. Risks will, of course, be the order of the day sooner than later. While creations and inventions are common, protection and use of IP in business are not so common. It is not a steep ladder but the mind to climb must be there.
Image from FreeDigitalPhotos
Comment by Dr. Kalyan
IP capacity in India has been developing at a rapid pace over teh last five years and as of date, we have a decent workforce to handle protection and search aspects of IP, especially patents. However, the sad part is that understanding of legal nuances with respect to risks is not up to the mark as of date. Hopefully, we will get there sooner than later. I believe that the efforts put on protection awareness must begin with respect to risks at various levels starting from students to professionals.
A. B. Suraj
Well stated Kalyan. About risk assessment being a critical part of the IP protection process, do we have enough professionals who are qualified to undertake this task? If there are few, then they perhaps are unaffordable! In Australia, the Government provides funding upto A$350,000 for expert/technical assistance on IP issues, especially towards commercialization.