Startups: Know 4 Types of IP Protection For Businesses

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If you come up with a great idea, design or product, you want to make sure that no one else has the right to take that product and claim it as their own. Intellectual property (IP) is protected and governed by various national and international laws, depending on where the idea was created, what the idea is and many other determining factors. Today we are going to learn the 4 different types of IP Protection for businesses.

  1. Copyrights

Copyrights protect original works of authorship, such as literature, music, artistic works, and computer software. As the holder of a copyright, you have the exclusive right to reproduce, adapt, and distribute the work. A copyright exists from the moment the work is created, so registration is voluntary.

However, registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney’s fees in a copyright infringement suit, so it is recommended that you register at your local Copyright Office. You can register your copyright online by completing an application, and sending in a non-returnable copy of your work.

Ministry administering the IPR:

  • Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry
  • Registrar of Copyrights
  • Concerned IP Act : The Copyright Act, 1957 (as amended)
  1. Patents

A patent grants property rights on inventions, allowing the patent holder to exclude others from making, selling or using the invention.

There are 3 types of patents: utility, design and plant. A utility patent is the most common type, and it covers any process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvements thereof.

To qualify for a utility patent, the invention must be novel, non-obvious, and have some usefulness.

A design patent covers any new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture, while a plant patent covers any new variety of asexually-produced plant.

Ministry/Office administering the IPR:

  • Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry
  • Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks
  • Concerned IP Act:
  • The Patents Act, 1970 (as amended in 2005)
  1. Trademarks

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that distinguishes the source of the goods of one business from its competitors. For example, the Nike “swoosh” design identifies shoes that are made by Nike.

Before registering your trademark, you should conduct a search of federal and state databases to ensure a similar trademark doesn’t already exist. To apply, you must have a clear representation of the mark, as well as an identification of the class of goods or services to which the mark will apply.

Ministry/Office administering the IPR:

  • Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry
  • Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks
  • Concerned IP Act: Trade Marks Act 1999 (as amended in 2010)
  1. Trade Secrets

A trade secret is a formula, process, device, or other business information that companies keep secret to give them an advantage over their competitors.

Examples of trade secrets are: soda formulas, customer lists, survey results, and computer algorithms. Unlike the other types of intellectual property, you can’t obtain protection by registering your trade secret. Instead, protection lasts only as long as you take the necessary steps to control disclosure and use of the information.

Businesses use non-disclosure agreements, restricted access to confidential information, post-employment restrictive covenants, and other security practices to maintain trade secrets.

For a startup, one can find its area of interest under above mentioned types of IP protection program. One can approach the mentioned government departments for further clarity according to their respective works.

 

(References: MakeInIndia, upcounsel)

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