SMEs must have agility towards IPR: Sagacious | SupportBiz

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SMEs must have agility towards IPR: Sagacious

Intellectual Property (IP) can be extremely valuable if it is maintained and presented well by any organization. Among large organizations, this subject holds broad level of focus. But the same subject struggles when it comes to SMEs.

IP Research and Patent Search firm from Gurgaon, Sagacious Research is working in the direction of IP protection and research and have developed a unique expertise in providing global and multi-lingual Patent Searches and in-depth licensing support.

In an exclusive interaction with SupportBiz, Tarun K Bansal, Director, Research at Sagacious Research highlighted the trends in IPR protection and its awareness among Indian SMEs.

How IPR awareness is catching up among Indian entrepreneurs?

There has been a slow but steady rise in the number of patent application being filed in India and abroad by Indian companies which shows increasing awareness among the Indian business community. This awareness is fueled by few of the following factors:

Competition from MNCs: As more and more MNCs are trying to capture Indian market, Indian entrepreneurs do not want to be caught off-guard. They have their innovations that are more suitable for local market and by not patenting, they allow their innovation to be exploited by the MNCs.  As the MNCs have lot of muscle power, they can simply start using our local entrepreneurs’ innovations and scale it so well that the local innovator can hardly fight for market share. In such scenario, patents really come to their rescue and Indian businessmen are becoming more aware about such advantages.

Requirements by Investor: With the rise in equity based (and other similar) investments in India, the Indian entrepreneur need to have patented technologies to instill more confidence among their investors when asked about the entry barriers.

Indian Companies Going Global: With a wide spread India Diaspora and their strong links with Indian entrepreneur community (as mentors, partners and investors), they are really spreading IP awareness among the Indian entrepreneurs. Moreover, with Indian diaspora links and global business getting easier and easier, most of the Indian entrepreneurs (especially in IT, electronics and Telecom sectors) have global plan, needing them to protect their IP in all major countries.

Avoiding Legal Issues: With the MNCs being very prompt about enforcing their IP rights against violators, the Indian entrepreneurs are also becoming very savvy when it comes to infringement issues. Now they thoroughly check their Freedom-to-operate issues before getting in to the market and facing legal hassles.

Large organizations follow a strategic focus towards protecting their IPRs. How do you witness this trend among the SME segment?

SMEs are catching up with their IP programs. Most of them are trying to put it in their short and long term strategies; but the pace is really slow and it will take time before we see something substantial.

What are the key challenges in this field in today's respect?

There are many challenges that contribute to slower growth in IP awareness. The most important of all is lack of enforcement. With our vintage legal system, even if you get a patent, it really becomes difficult to enforce it against any infringers as the legal process takes lot of time. By the time any judgment is made, the technology becomes obsolete. Accordingly, entrepreneurs usually try to keep their innovation secret as far as possible.

Lack of proper guidance and consultation in this field is another challenge. Most of the lawyers operating in the field do not really specialize in IP but can still practice IP. Further, you need more technology oriented people to handle IP creation and not the lawyers, but still this awareness is not there. Finally the cost of IP creation significantly increases because of the involvement of lawyers while the quality of IP created is very poor.

Another big problem is lack of market place for IP. Currently, focus of all consultants in this space is on creating IP for their clients (and making money for themselves in the process). Barely any consultant advises clients on the actual value of the IP and helps them monetize this by way of licensing/selling. Moreover, awareness about buying/leasing IP is very low in India and people do not want to pay for intangibles.

As an IPR consulting firm, how big is the market in India?

The opportunities in the Indian market are unlimited. Currently only biggies are doing it and most of them have their in-house IP teams as they have regular work. They still use outside consultancy firms to carry at least 30-40 per cent of their work for better output and easier control on complex matters.

But once the SMEs become more and more active, the IP consultancy firms will see a lot of rise in work order. The SMEs will never prefer their in-house teams considering ad-hoc work and will engage reputed Indian IP agencies for their Audits, IP RoI analysis, strategy formulation and protection of IP rights.

You can compare this to what Korea was ~10-15 years back and what China was ~5-10 years ago. We can expect the similar growth.

For Sagacious, what are the key drivers of business?

One of the biggest drivers of Sagacious business is the increased interest among the MNCs and foreign entities to enter the lucrative consumer-driven Indian market for higher topline. In order to do so, they need to have proper IP presence in India (patents, trademarks, designs, etc., etc.) and require a representative in India to do it for them.

What will be your business focus for the next two years?

Business focus for the next two years would be to increase the awareness of IP among Indian companies. Sagacious is a member of FISME and is committed to spread awareness of IP among the SMEs. Although, this will not materialize in to topline in short term, but it is an investment worth doing from a long term perspective. As for topline, Sagacious will keep focusing on MNCs and foreign organization wanting to create IP in India.


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