By Dr Shaleen Raizada
The electronics industry is the most vibrant and fast growing sector in the Indian economy. In fact, the government has identified electronics manufacturing as one of the thrust areas of development. Like any other growing industry, the electronics industry too faces accelerating change and aggressive competition. It, thus, becomes essential that electronics companies should protect their innovative products by creating an entry barrier. Hence, a strong intellectual property protection for domestic electronics industry is essential for its success and survival.
Why is it important to know IPR issues?
Globalisation of the world economy has not only increased the levels of competition but has also brought forward the reality that any infringement in the intellectual property rights can have quick and disastrous repercussions for an organisation.
This becomes extremely relevant in the Indian context where a number of companies manufacture components based on designs handed over to them by overseas procurers. The Indian manufacturers, in good faith, do not even verify whether or not the designs they have been handed over are original or whether they are infringing on some previously filed patent.
However, often under the manufacturing agreements, it is the responsibility of the Indian companies to check any infringement, and in case they fail to do so, are liable to face legal action if patents are violated.
Thus, it is essential that the senior management of companies should be aware of intellectual property protection issues—both with regard to patent filing as well as their infringement. They can then ensure that their manufacturing and research divisions work within well defined IP parameters.
IPR related issues
There are some issues which should be kept in mind, especially by companies having a vibrant R&D department. These include the following:
• A patent landscape search should be conducted in the field of related research, product and services, in order to gain an accurate assessment of what IP protection may be obtained by the company before any major research or development endeavour is initiated
• It is also important to ensure that the patents are regularly disclosed during the developmental stage of a project, so that solutions can be developed and the in-house researchers do not reinvent the wheel
• Assessment of the intellectual property value should be carried out at the end of the project or filing of patents, designs, etc, so that the launched product may not give a competitive advantage to other companies
• There should be a system in place to update information regarding the competitors’ IP on a regular basis so that the information can be disseminated to the researchers and decisions concerning IP and products can be taken
• An information system should be developed regarding any infringement (of patents and trademark) or breach that could occur on the part of the said company or any third party
• The company’s patent portfolio should be periodically reviewed to verify if innovations and product developments are covered by the portfolio and that the company is not maintaining IP of no or little value.
We need to reiterate that protection of IP has definite and tangible benefits and can go a long way in propagating innovative culture, profitability and market leadership. This, in turn, helps creation of wealth for individuals, companies and the nation.
The author is MD and CEO, Sanshadow Consultants Pvt Ltd