Ridhma Dhar gives a 10-step guide to IP success at TechSparks 2020

Startups need to give their intellectual property a legal protection as it guards against unfair competition and can also become a valuable tool for monetisation, said Ridhma Dhar, an IP expert, at TechSparks 2020.

The most essential gadget like a mobile phone is governed by numerous intellectual property (IP) laws as it recognises the technology know-how that goes into the device and also protects the business interests. This should act as a valuable guide for any new startup on the importance of IP.

Ridhma Dhar, IP Solutions Consultant, Clarivate, while speaking at a masterclass in YourStory’s flagship event, TechSparks, spoke about the “10-step guide to IP success” and said,

“IP is an important consideration for tech startups. They will encounter numerous issues which can be distracting, expensive, or contrary to their goals, but this is often the most valuable asset to get venture funding and preventing competition from getting unfair advantage.”

Ridhma highlighted the key steps that a technology startup should undertake to ensure its IP is protected as it becomes a valuable tool in business strategies.

  • Know your IP: Startups need to take stock of all the IP creation and then decide on the type of IP protection. IP is categorised into two areas: industrial property and copyright. This encompasses several areas such as trademarks, geographical indications, plant varieties, layout design for integrated circuit, piece of art, sculpture, music, etc. The key point is that all these are governed by global laws.
  • Evaluating who owns the IP: This is a very critical issue as it involves all kind of individuals starting from the founder, employees, external consultants, open source software, etc. According to Ridhma, securing this right in the beginning saves time and money in the long run as clarity on who owns the IP becomes an attractive proposition to get investments. Lack of clarity on this issue can hurt the important stakeholders like the business, investors, and customers.
  • IP strategy helps business: Protection of IP helps in driving business growth and acts as defence against unfair competition. It also helps in securing business partners and investors. All this ensures there is smooth running of the operations.
  • Execution of IP: According to Ridhma, it can be leveraged strategically by startups to grow their business as it protects against competition, patent trolls, and collect licence fees. Here, it is important for a startup in its early days of the R&D lifecycle to conduct intense search to ensure its technology remains exclusive and there is not something that is already available.
  • IP strategies: There can be different strategies where an offensive one will be to seek protection even for less critical IP. In case of defensive strategy, there will protection only for critical IP.
  • Creating IP awareness: It is important to create awareness within the organisation on what is owned by the company in terms of IP and what is available in the external environment. Ridhma said that a startup should not reach a stage where the product is launched and then discover that something similar is already available.
  • Monetising IP assets: An IP Protection Act has numerous advantages such as licensing of a product, protection of a trade secret, and gives an advantage in the marketplace. It can also be used as a collateral to raise capital.
Ridhma said, “IP rights helps in building organisation pride and investor confidence on how one is going to protect the assets.” She further added that no startup should ever ignore the importance of IP.

TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.

Edited by Megha Reddy