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In the world of ideas and innovations and constant technological advancements, it’s always the race to be at the top. Every company is constantly working on the next big thing in its sector, while making sure that it’s the first person to do so.
The cut-throat competition has also seen many Intellectual Property right wars, one that leads to a gruesome struggle of who started what and often ends at the court.
A Pinch Now Saves a Punch Later
One of the biggest IP wars in the recent past has to be that of Apple and Samsung, one that has resulted in several trips to the court, undivided media attention and of course, lots of money spent by both parties. A recent case that has brought the important of IP rights onto the fore again is the Uber and Waymo (Google’s self-driving car unit) case, where the latter has filed a case against the former accusing them of data theft.
But what it also brought to light was the fact that with technology being easily accessible to all, it’s also easy to steal another’s idea and implement it. While bigger corporations can afford a case, smaller start-ups or SMEs fail to identify the need to protect their ideas. Often, smaller businesses in order to save a little bit of cash, avoid patenting their products or registering their IP. What they do not understand is that this could cost them a whole lot more later.
“Entrepreneurs often create intellectual property worth millions without their knowledge. This can be exploited financially if they fail to register there trademarks or Copyrights,” said Prashant Mali, from Cyber Law Consulting.
Protecting your idea from the nascent stages also shows a sense of awareness and responsibility.
“The registration of IPR adds to the start-up’s book value when they are either being acquired or are being invested in. IPR protects you and also your valuation in the market,” believes Mali.
An Insider’s Job
There are also many cases where the infringement of IP rights is done by an ex-employee or even a current employee. Disgruntled employees often leak information or while leaving a company take away the idea behind a project that they worked upon. While there are laws that ensure employees cannot leak information about the company, the lack of knowledge about laws is what leads to such problems.
“The IP loss is predominant these days through insiders. Many a times, there have been cases where the lack of code controls make the irked employees release the code to the external world. In many cases, insiders join the competition,” said Mohan Gandhi, CEO, Entersoft Security.
Another problem is the entrepreneur’s failure to understand what should be patented and when. Entrepreneurs are often too busy with the business aspect of things and miss out on the legal aspect.
Agreeing to what Mali said, Gandhi said, “The biggest challenge an Indian Startup faces is the lack of clarity in terms of what’s patentable. In many start-ups, the IP lies in the software code. Therefore, it is important that IP is identified before designing the product. Also, Code obfuscation (the process of creating a source or machine code which is difficult for humans to understand), Encryption and Code control has to be in place.”