Coronavirus is affecting each & every aspect of our daily lives. Apart from the health risk, it has been disrupting our social and economic lifestyle or a part of it. Amid this situation, there’s one thing which stays more powerful and that is Intellectual Property, and it’s imperative for us to realize it. Not to mention, it remains the same irrespective of any jurisdiction. We all know that Intellectual property protection is key to fostering innovation. Without protection of ideas, businesses and researchers would not get ROI on their inventions (investments), which would ultimately lead to less research and development, which we can’t afford, especially in this pandemic.
In this article, we are going to talk about the role of IP in the current situation. We will touch upon why IP protection is important, how can one benefit from their IP assets and the key to have an edge.
Why is protecting IP still crucial?
Development of Cross-Industry Solutions:
Undoubtedly, Coronavirus is destroying economies all over the world. Since there is no such idea of how long the situation persists, the companies are trying to get their hands on something functional, that may help them to outshine in the current situation. With the same thought process, they are racing towards adopting or developing solutions in an industry that is aligned with the current situation. The solutions can be of their own very domain or can belong to other ones. The key factor is that it has to be aligned with the current situation. That means, industries which are (in)directly contributing towards the economy in the middle of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. For example, the industries which are currently on a high are: medical, entertainment, online gaming, video conferencing, social media, etc. So, a shift toward adopting the solutions from these industries is apparent. Consequently, this may lead to an increase in possibility of infringement accusations. This makes protecting IP crucial.
The companies of rising industries (medical, entertainment, online gaming, video conferencing, social media, etc.) will try to have an edge over their competitors. Not only this, but the companies adopting cross-industry solutions will also focus on making their product/platform exceptional. It might be a mindset in some cases that IP owners will not pay heed in this pandemic situation; and with this mindset, they might rush towards launching their product or feature. This can again cause high number of IP litigation. For example, Mahindra & Mahindra has recently been accused of stealing a low cost ventilator technology by a PGIMER doctor. This again validates the fact that IP protection is important.
What opportunities can be created by having IP assets?
Companies can use IP as a weapon to fight financial imbalance:
The lockdown has halted most of the industry operations. This has worsened the financial state of companies. But, no matter what the situation is, they got their IP assets’ back. Companies can utilize their intangible assets to compensate for their loss in revenue by
1. Earning royalties by licensing it.
2. Exploiting it through strategic alliances.
3. Making money by selling it.
4. Suing Potential Infringers.
All in all, the power of your IP still has the potential to make your business more powerful.
Companies can develop solutions to fight Covid-19 by having free access to IP assets owned by others:
The Open Covid Pledge is an initiative which includes a group of techies such as IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Hewlett Packard and Sandia National Laboratories. They have pledged free use of their intellectual property (IP) to fight Covid-19 during the pandemic. Aspiring companies may come forward to take advantage of this access, and accelerate the development and deployment of diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics, medical equipment and software solutions in this urgent public health crisis (not to be monetized). Other tech companies and academic and research institutions are also joining this growing list.
Companies can grant royalty free licenses for those in need to beat Covid-19:
Apart from monetary benefit, NPEs and other companies having good amounts of IP assets can make their name by volunteering for granting royalty free licenses to other aspirers.
Why is IP assessment mandatory?
Of all the cases discussed above, the key which can help you have an edge over everyone else is to get IP evaluated. Let’s see how IP assessment helps in all the above cases:
- While launching a new product/feature, get a quick IP check done, to avoid possible infringements.
- While suing, companies should know the exact point of infringement of a product or invalidation of a patent. Without IP assessment, the same can hit backward and can be risky.
- While out-licensing your Intellectual Property, you should, always, go for a strength check of the assets you have, to get the maximum benefit.
- Now when the businesses are not indulged into manufacturing practices, it’s high and apt time to utilize this time to sort their IP portfolio via valuation. This includes classifying your IP assets into star patents, core/non-core patents, etc.
- If you are thinking of entering into a new domain, get an overview of the spaces which have not been worked on yet. This white-space analysis will give you the idea for an initial kick to your Research & Development practices.
- While building a business strategy, get to know what your competitors are up to. An overview of your competitors’ IP portfolio may prove a great lead for you to realize your weak & strong spots.
Therefore, its not deniable that IP can be used as a shield to beat bankruptcy and litigation; and a medal to stand-out among the industry players. The art is, just, to know how to take advantage of it aptly! And, we, at TT consultants, are happy to help you with any of the above mentioned assessments/studies.
Co-Author: Ishant Kataria