From the moment you wake up till you settle at night, you are
surrounded by Intellectual Property (IP). From the alarm clock that
wakes you to the mouthwash you use at night the IP's are really
everywhere. Recently, I noticed a relatively newer form of hand
pump, which was quite different from the hand pumps romanticized in
the movies. I tried it, a bit unsuccessfully I must say, but found
its usage easier than the old pumps. The sheer ingenuity of the
inventor, made me conscious of the universality of the concept and
the fact that barring the IP of the One above, there is no man-made
article to my knowledge which would not be covered by it in one way
or the other.
Intellectual Property has now become a major concern for not
only companies or organisations but also the common man. A small
builder the other day was recommending to a client to buy a
"SINTEX" tank as it was a branded product rather than a
tank of a local vendor. It has in fact become ingrained in the
minds of every individual, that a brand is directly proportional to
a quality product. As the lose translation of a saying goes, you
buy an expensive product once, but a cheap product you have to keep
rebuying! Quality speaks and so the manufacturer rightly puts a
premium to that quality.
So what exactly makes a brand or a product to be what it stands
as today -Marketing? Branding? Quality? Currency of the product? Or
a mixture of various factors.
Economics & the principles of Management teach us of a
product life cycle - Introduction, Promotion, Growth, Maturity and
Applying that in relation to a product and its IP, at the stage
of Introduction, a business would tend to bring in the product and
gauge its acceptability in the market. Before doing so, the
manufacturer has to ascertain whether that product needs to be
covered by any patent or design. In some cases where the business
owner feels that the IP is too sensitive to give out, he would
rather protect it under a trade secret (e.g. KFC).
The investment made in these above forms of IP would ideally
need to be covered at this stage rather than later. To misquote a
saying, once introduced a rose has to be called by a name!! What
name one uses, defines the product and the product will either
succeed or fail by this name. So the name of the product becomes an
important decision to be taken by the development team. The
investment in scoping out and filing for the IP then is at the
At the next stage of Promotion, the name goes around. The IP
(Trademark/Patent/Design) and the product go hand-in-hand. The
market for that production is enhanced or deteriorates by the sheer
effectiveness of the promotion strategy, which is intrinsically
linked with the trade name. At this stage the promotion of the
product and therefore the usage of the IP will be at its peak.
At the next stage of Growth, the seeds of promotion should have
started reaping its benefits. Accordingly a business would look to
consolidate the product and taper off the promotion slowly.
Once the product has peaked it would slowly reach a plateau, at
the stage of Maturity, which would keep the returns coming in,
before moving south. At this stage a business would naturally look
to work out various strategies including sub-branding or rebranding
to keep the currency of the product. It would look at new options
for sustaining the market.
At the stage of Decline the market would try and shelf the
product and the IP associated with it. From the point of view of
the IP, this it can do in the following ways:
It can shelf the product and withdraw the trademark associated
Keep the trademark running for a future rethink but slowly
withdraw the product while introducing a fresh one.
Use the trademark to launch the fresh product.
In terms of the patent or design it would have achieved its
returns and if it is still in force the right owner would normally
tend to keep it.
Any business owner would look to position their brand and the IP
from the commercial perspective. A brand would therefore be
sustainable only if it lives out its life cycle in unison with the
business plans. Some exceed expectations whereas for some a rethink
is required right at the beginning stages itself. In the end the
intellectual property in a product would only be acquired by a
business if it makes commercial sense. Product Life Cycle and
Intellectual Property are therefore two sides of the same coin, one
complementing the other!!!
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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This article enunciates the recent, much awaited, and landmark judgment delivered on September 16, 2016 by Hon'ble Delhi High Court throwing light on the important provisions of the Copyright Act, 1962.
The Patents Act 1970, along with the Patents Rules 1972, came into force on 20th April 1972, replacing the Indian Patents and Designs Act 1911. The Patents Act was largely based on the recommendations of the Ayyangar Committee Report headed by Justice N. Rajagopala Ayyangar. One of the recommendations was the allowance of only process patents with regard to inventions relating to drugs, medicines, food and chemicals.
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