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Why should businesses care about IP?
Intellectual property is among the most important and valuable business assets that a company owns. It is therefore important to have a strong IP portfolio for building a sustainable and long-term business.
There are three primary categories of IP which are important to businesses:
1. Trade marks: This refers to anything that helps to identify and distinguish the products or services of one company from another, such as one's name, logo, or tagline. Having these trade marks allows you to prevent your competitors from using the same or a confusingly similar trade mark.
2. Copyright: This protects the original works of authorship created, such as written works, art, music and computer software. A copyright generally gives the owner exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and control how the work is redistributed to the public.
3. Patents: This is used to protect inventive ideas or processes. The two primary types of patents are utility and design patents. Utility patents are used for the invention of "a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter". Design patents protect aesthetic appearances only and do not cover product function.
In today's operating environment, it is easier than ever to replicate a product or an idea, and businesses would do well to "future proof" their ideas and work.
While there is a cost involved to protect your work and products, this is similar to getting insurance. For the cost of getting trade marks, copyright and patents, you are protecting your company against the disaster and risks of the loss of your company name, logo, exclusive product design, technology and other valuable IP assets that differentiate you in the marketplace.
In today's Internet age, this would also include registering your company's name and key brand as social media handles and user names, and your Internet presence is not diminished by infringements on your brand name online.
Now more than ever, protecting IP needs to be a critical part of every business plan. You should contact a lawyer who specialises in IP law so he can advise you on the best IP strategy to protect your business and align it with your business strategy.
- The writer is market head, South and South-east Asia, Standard Chartered Private Bank