The Benefits of Protecting Intellectual Property in the Digital EraNovember 13, 2021 By Amee Parmar
Digitalization and the widespread prevalence of the internet have made the world a global village. We can connect and collaborate with people across countries and seas in a way that was unimaginable in the pre-digital era. It has, however, also made information privacy a challenge in unprecedented and unpredictable ways. As a result, businesses have to be more careful about protecting their assets, especially the collection of assets known as Intellectual Property (IP).
Intellectual property constitutes everything from the Brand name, the design, the shape, the technology and sometimes even the colour of your product as well and unlike tangible assets which can be protected in a safe with restricted access, these intangible assets are public. Within minutes, anyone across the world can access and copy these. For example, if you spend years creating an IoT based technology that makes your website unique and engaging, the minute your website goes live it becomes public. Competitors of all levels will start trying to reverse engineer the technology, even though you might hold the patent for it. Similarly, the content of your website, brochure and all brand assets is readily available online. In such a scenario, it isn’t a wonder that stealing and illegally using someone else’s unique creations and ideas is one of the most committed crimes today. Thus, it is imperative that businesses that wish to grow in this digital era learn the nuances of intellectual property protection.
Intellectual property rights (IPR) offer opportunities to shield your intellectual property from infringers. These include intellectual properties like patent, copyright, trademark, trade secrets as well as designs. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has categorised these into the following categories:
- Industrial Designs
- Geographical Indications
- Trade Secrets
Depending on the type of idea/creation/information that you’re seeking to protect, it could fall into more than one of these categories. For instance, the content of your digital website and brochure can be protected through copyright. Along with your logo and brand name can be protected through trademark, if you can prove that the colour used on all your branding and digital presence has become strongly associated with your brand through the years, you might be able to gain trademark protection for the colour as well.
Regardless of the category, it is important to protect your intellectual property, because of the following benefits.
- In isolation, ideas have no commercial value. Through IPR, you can protect these into commercially viable goods and services. For instance, if you develop a completely new technology, it is important to gain a Patent - intellectual property for it. In this manner, you can create an avenue of income through royalty payments.
- Your intellectual property - patent or copyright can also create an excellent unique selling proposition (USP) for your Business. Customers are more likely to notice and trust your company, because it is very clear that you’re doing something different and going the extra mile.
- IP helps you create a powerful impression on not just customers, but potential investors too. So, say that there are two startups pitching to a potential investor. The first one has a great, unique idea, but that’s about it. The second one, on the other hand, has a unique idea that they have a patent -intellectual property for. They know about their rights and are effectively using them to open up new streams of generating value. It’s obvious that the latter one is more likely to get the investment.
- The prime reason why businesses focus on their IPR is to protect their intellectual property from purposeful or unintended infringement. In the future, if your property is being infringed, being aware of your rights and seeking guidance from an IP law firm goes a long way in securing your interests.
Given how important IP is, it goes without saying that every business and individual should form an IP strategy to ensure intellectual property protection. You can take a number of steps to protect your IP in the digital sphere.
- For years, the information in digital files has been encrypted to ensure security while transferring through networks. In this mechanism, the contents of a file are encrypted (scrambled) so that anyone except the person who has the ability to decrypt (unscramble) this message cannot decipher this content.
- Digital watermarks, digital signatures or digitally signed fingerprints are often added to documents to prominently mark ownership. Some digital signatures also contain details such as the identity of the sender or receiver, date, time, etc. These lend a level of authenticity to your files and prevent illegal copying.
- There are also technologies through which you can automatically generate a unique mark which is then tagged to each copy that’s made of your documents.
While these methods are impactful, simple steps of IP sense go a long way in ensuring their effectiveness. Consider conducting a search for existing patents and copyrights similar to the one you wish to apply for. And always keep crucial information confidential before you file an application for protection. Being aware of your rights means that you see tricky situations coming a mile away and often avoid any future lawsuits. In the digital era, when people can copy and publish content that they do not even own with just a click, it helps to insist on appropriate contracts and NDAs at the beginning of any association.
Despite taking all these measures, intellectual property rights is still a tricky domain. There are multiple grey areas related to IP in a digital world. Can digitization of a file be considered the same as copying through a photocopy machine? If one transmits digitized documents through the internet, is it considered public broadcasting or private consumption? In a world where memes and troll culture are at their peak, what sort of situations are considered fair use? Are free digital libraries considered commercial or non-commercial when it comes to distributing intellectual property? Thus, it is wise to consult an IP law firm at regular intervals, to ensure that the fences of your intellectual property protection strategy are strong enough.
As one of the most reliable IP law firms in Ahmedabad - India our experienced attorneys at Parker and Parker Co. LLP assists you through all the steps of IP protection, from registration to contracts. In case of infringements, we provide a thorough analysis of the infringement situation and formulate appropriate action-based plans depending on the case. Our services also include litigation related procedures as well as sending cease and desist letters to those infringing upon your rights.