Intellectual property relates to anything originated or created from human mind. Intellectual property rights are the rights given to a creator for his creation by the government. Following are the benefits of protecting your intellectual property:
- It provides monopoly to exclude the competition.
- It helps to generate revenue.
- It facilitate technology cross-licensing.
- Attracts investors.
- It also helps in merger and acquisition.
Every startup should understand, find, and protect following four basic types of intellectual properties:
- Trademarks: Trademark is like your name. As your name identifies and distinguishes you, a trademark identifies and distinguishes the source of any product or service related to it from other products or services. Trademark is a mark which identifies the goods and services of one company from those of others. Trademark can be a word (Kelogg’s), letter (Mc Donalds), shape (coke bottle, Toblerone chocolate), number (007), colour-combination (Duracell batteries), sound (MGM entertainment-Roaring lion), smell (Rose smell of tyres) etc. A good should be distinctive or unique and should not be descriptive. Trademark registration is initially for ten years which is extendable for indefinite period.
- Trade secrets: Trade secret is information which is confidential and has a commercial value for a company. Trade secret is actually an information related to a company which is not generally known or easily accessible. Trade secret can be a formula, practice, process, design specifications, instrument, pattern or compilation of information, business information, customer lists, source code, financial data or hidden methods of doing business which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable, by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers. Every company should identify their trade secrets and take some steps to maintain confidentiality related to the trade secret. The tenure of trade secret is forever as far as the information is kept confidential. The famous example of the trade secret is the coca-cola recipe.
- Copyrights: Copyright is the right which protects the expression of an idea. The right exists on creation of work. The copyright is for any literary work, musical work, dramatics works, choreographic works, pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, cinematography work, performance etc. The tenure of copyright is till the life of an author and 60 years after the death of the author. It is not mandatory to register your copyright but it is always advisable to register your copyrightable subject matter and get a certificate from the Copyright Registry.
- Patents: Patent is a monopoly given by the government to the inventor for his invention in exchange of complete disclosure of the invention. The right is for a limited period which is twenty years from the date of filing of patent application. The right is territorial in nature that means it limits within the geographic boundary of any country. Patent right are given for the inventions which are new that means it should not be previously known or used by others, not obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the art and it should have some industrial use. Patent rights are given for any process or method, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter. In some countries like USA the software or business methods can also be patented.