Friday, May 4, 2018

"SMEs are in Urgent need of an IPR and Patenting Infrastructure" by Manisha Gupta

Here's an article of mine titled :

"SMEs are in Urgent Need of an IPR and Patenting Infrastructure"

published in the "FINANCIAL EXPRESS"  of 18th February, 2005.

Putting up this article here because this is the most misused article of mine. In this article, the portion highlighted in Yellow is the portion LIFTED and USED by many people in their articles & reports.

Also, please note that all the words like "IP ALERT", ‘patent potential’ or “Patential”, etc. had been coined by me.

SMEs are in urgent need of an IPR and patenting infrastructure. Manisha Gupta Posted: 2005-02-18 12:37:19+05:30 IST Updated: Apr 01, 2008 at 1300 hrs IST ... - Cached - Similar

SMEs are in urgent need of an IPR and patenting infrastructure

Manisha Gupta

Posted: Friday, Feb 18, 2005 at 1237 hrs IST

:   With the advent of a knowledge driven economy and in this era of the WTO and Trips, the focus has shifted from tangible assets of an enterprise to its intangible ones. For SMEs, it is the possession of intangible assets such as creative genius, innovation potential and knowledge capital that now largely determine their competitive edge over others. The increasing significance of knowledge capital entails adequate management of the knowledge assets of an enterprise. But apart from the already prevalent knowledge management or KM as it is popularly called, it is knowledge protection (shall we say “KP” !) that has to be given much more importance so as to exploit its wealth generating potential. Thus to stay ahead in business, adequate and timely protection of its intellectual assets ie its IP is absolutely essential.

       As opposed to conventional SMEs, knowledge SMEs such as design, software and IT, media and entertainment, biotech and other technology- intensive units are primarily dependent on fast changing technologies. These have to be globally competitive because their products are either exported or compete with very high quality products in the domestic markets. Here continued innovation acts as a major driver of survival. When talking of innovation, IPRs can’t be far behind.
With globalisation taking the world by storm, IP protection assumes all the more significance. Though IPR awareness is only beginning to emerge in India, in the international IP arena, most countries are expert players in this field and fully exploit the wealth generating potential of IPRs to their economic advantage. Hence in this fast and high-tech age of the Internet and rapid globalisation, there is an utmost urgency for an IPR and Patenting infrastructure for SMEs in India. This should be at 3 levels: a) within the enterprise b) an intermediation structure and c) a regulatory and enforcement mechanism. Within the company, IPR awareness and training will enable it to be on an “IP alert”, keep track of globally evolving innovations and technologies, use this knowledge to its business advantage and maintain an IP portfolio. Intermediation structures such as IP attorneys and institutions would facilitate this process. The regulatory and enforcement structures such as patent offices, courts and arbitration mechanisms for IP would ensure speedy, transparent and efficient resolution of conflicts in case of infringements.

     In India, acquiring IP rights is perceived as a costly and time-consuming affair. Due to lack of awareness, it is mistaken to be synonymous with patents. SMEs generally carry out minor improvements, modifications or design and technique innovations over existing ones, so more than patents, it is “utility models” (or “petty patents”) which may be appropriate. These are more cost effective, time efficient and less of a hassle in registration as Compared to patents. They can prove to be an affordable IP tool for such enterprises, especially in developing countries where costs are a major concern. One could take lessons from Japan on how to effectively utilise utility models. What Indian SMEs ideally need is a “patent plus” regime coupled with a “cost minus” benefit. Petty patents being one such option, other affordable tools are Trade secrets, Industrial designs, Trademarks and Domain names, which help build brands, leading to higher business and export potential.

   In the IP world, it is strictly “first come, first serve!” So the sooner an enterprise protects its new, high value creations, the better. Such protection will be an effective long-term business strategy and early returns could be from licensing, assigning or contracting out its IPRs, which can be traded. Company lifecycles becoming shorter, innovation and protection are key components of survival and it is in the business interest of the enterprise to improve its ‘patent potential’ or “Patential”.

    These enterprises start as very small units housed in incubators and technology parks and grow rapidly, driven by innovation. To finance their IP portfolio, they need flexible, multiple stage financing which can only be provided by VCs or equity investing by high net worth individuals, who are also well networked and provide strategic perspectives, thus opening a plethora of opportunities. Companies like Infosys, Wipro, Biocon, Dr. Reddys Lab & Bharti telecom, which started off as SMEs a few years ago, are now large, globally respected enterprises. They have an extensive IP portfolio, multi million dollar turnover and provide thousands of jobs. This makes them robust and fast growing globalised enterprises, which do yeoman service to the country by generating export surplus and employment.

     Thus an intelligent and timely IP strategy can add much value, which could be a boon since SMEs have the potential of transforming the economic landscape of the country.

The writer is a consultant on IPR issues pertaining to knowledge and development

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