Elevate 2019: Trademark infringement increasing, startup founders need to watch out, says Brinda Varma

At Elevate 2019, patent attorney Brinda Varma, who’s also Founding Partner, Aekam Legal Abode, said startup founders should be up to date with IP laws so they don’t get stuck in claims and counter-claims through legal suits.

Elevate 2019, the brainchild of the startup cell of the IT & BT Department, Government of Karnataka, kicked off in Bengaluru on Monday, putting the focus on ways to identify and nurture the most innovative startups.

At a session on intellectual property rights, Brinda Varma, Founding Partner, Aekam Legal Abode, said infringement under trademark laws was becoming very common these days. 

Brinda Varma, Founding partners, Aekam Legal Abode

She suggested that startups should start using “TM” symbol once they start the business.

“Say to the world that this trademark is yours; stay away,” she said, adding, “Never use ‘R inside the circle’ symbol without actually getting the trademark approval granted.”

She told the audience at Elevate 2019 that registration of trademark was not compulsory, but offered better legal protection. There are two types of trademarks: collective and certification. The trademark can be renewed every 10 years as long as the business exists.

Varma, an advocate and patent attorney, said the term IP refers to “creation of the mind or the intellect”. And IPR, which refers to statutory rights, may be protected by law in the same way as any other form of property.

She said that the World Intellectual property Organisation (WIPO) and World Trade Organisation (WTO) are two main international bodies that administer and oversee international IPR obligations.

She offered startup founders some essential lessons about the types of IPR:

* Trademarks are distinctive signs used to differentiate between goods and services of one person/enterprise from the other.

* GI stands for Geographical Indication. Varma said maximum GIs have been allotted to Karnataka, and Mysore district holds the maximum GIs in the world.

* The other types of IPR includes layout of designs of IC, industrial designs concerned with aesthetic features, plant variety, and trade secrets. 

* For any software in the IT industry, patent rights are given for 20 years.


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