IP and SMEs- Taking your Ideas to the Market
In the era of knowledge-driven economy, Intellectual Property Right is a key consideration in day to day business decisions. Also, as the world grapples with the clutches of the deadly Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19), we must keep in mind that Intellectual Property and innovation is and will be in the forefront as we fight against this pandemic.
Coming to the topic of deliberation, we all are aware that SMEs play a significant and vital role in sustaining an economy. As per World Bank, SMEs constitute 90% of the world’s business and employ 70% of the global workforce. Coming closer to home, in India, as of today there are 6.3 Crores MSMEs and they contribute approximately 29% to India’s GDP, thus, operating as the very life source of our economy. So friends, what should an SME or MSME concentrate on while it is looking to grow and develop itself? Of course, aspects like marketing, strategizing, innovating etc. play a role but none of these factors are as important as protecting the MSME’s intellectual properties.
Intellectual Properties are like any other assets that an SME can own and they can reap innumerable benefits like:
- They protect innovative products and services created by you;
- IP helps to increase the visibility, attractiveness and value of products on the market;
- IP helps in safe advertising and marketing products and services
- IP helps to distinguish businessand its products from the competition;
- IP helps in accessing technical and business informationand knowledge;
- Its understanding helps an SME to avoid undue and unwarranted infringement of any existing IPRs owned by other parties.
- It helps in attracting investments and up-scaling business.
- It helps in expanding businesses and is an added advantage when entering new/foreign markets.
And the benefits are countless. Often times, in my practice, I have seen SMEs and Start-ups ignoring Intellectual Properties because it is seen as an added cost or expense at the initial stage. Granted, that it is an expense, but try to look at it as an investment. A protected IP reaps innumerable benefits and will in fact save on future costs that come attached with unprotected IPs. So don’t look at it as a cost or an expense but think of it as a long term investment. When managed and strategized smartly, Intellectual Property can become an economic tool, for example, you can license, assign, sell or franchise your intellectual property be it an invention, brand, unique design etc. and that in turn will give monetary gains to SMEs.
As a practitioner, I understand that SMEs do not have enough resources to apply for IP protection, but even the government is conscious of this fact and in order to support SMEs and to harvest a robust Intellectual Property environment amongst SMEs, the government has constantly endeavored to provide various benefits like reduced the filing fees of all Intellectual Property registrations, establishment of innovation incubation centers, facilitating easy filing of Intellectual Properties and introduction of policies like Make India, Atmanirbhar Bharat and Vocal for Local to create and sustain an IP conducive environment that is specifically tailored for Start Ups and MSMEs.
In conclusion, I would say that MSMEs should give due weightage to IP and should consider its protection while it is still in its nascent stage. Leveraging intellectual property by SMEs is not only a recommendation but is mandatory for its success and growth in the marketplace.