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Managing Intellectual property

Written by: Anumoni Joshi, (Patent Attorney), IPM-Electrical Sector (EBG),Larsen & Toubro Limited
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Idea imbibed from the intellectual capacity of human brain that is manifested having recognized legal claim to ownership is Intellectual Property Right. The word intellectual property right alludes contentious and would be a misnomer to associate the same with elite and the intellectuals. Inadequate knowledge on the subject in the developing nations ventilates such thoughts to the common mass. However the scenario is changing with the consistent efforts by governments of various nations across the globe to harmonize the laws relating thereto. This would facilitate to outline altogether different concept. WTO framing rules to keep the pace with the developing technology (a never ceasing process) promises new hopes to these nations. For instant the product patent regime in India for pharmaceutical products from January 1, 2005 is one example.

The nomenclatures such as patent, trade mark, copyright, industrial design, integrated circuit are well known and is conceived as masters on the same by the elite and the intellectuals but the irony is, till date major local globe in India are concerned only with the prosecution of the IP assets. Illuminating IPR beyond prosecution, the commercial exploitation of the procured IP assets is the core success. This commercialization of IP assets is no longer new concept for MNC's in countries like USA, Japan, Germany, etc but the local globe in India are yet to make their maiden voyage.

At this juncture WTO re-framing rules making FDI procedure flexible, Indian manufacturers are sensing the current scenario, only as threat from the MNC entering India, making them impaired. Hence the drive for filling patent is at mad rush!! not worried, in-fact unaware of the repercussion after the grant of patents. It may not be a big problem for large manufacturers but the cost of maintaining the patents without commercial exploitation might be a nightmare at later stage. Manufacturers are of the notion that the patent laws are of superficial legal in reality technology driven, which to an extent is correct but viewing patent beyond prosecution is definitely legal affair.

Yet another misconceived notion is depicting the IP asset on the balance sheet. The practice in India is almost non existing, if at all few companies are making efforts it is only to the extent of showing the cost incurred in procurement of the IP and not on the commercial success of the product. The Income Tax Act 1961 of India, in the year 1998 has already incorporated the evaluation of intangibles. Unlike in US the same is reflected on the balance sheet only when IP is acquired either as a goodwill or intangible property (Prior to FAS on going into effect).

Once the value is depicted on the balance sheet, the value is revalued yearly to see whether the value has been raise, lowered or is constant and accordingly the same is reflected. This probe one to contemplate upon why value IP? The repartee is clear there would be many reasons to value IP such as for sale, license to other party, for tax planning, for accounting transactions, for determining overall value of technology with or with out protection, for valuing brand or trade marks, to identify items that may be more valuable to other part than to yourself and may more. The intrinsic purpose of valuation of IP is specific as per the requisition of the organization.

The IPR cult in India is still at embryotic stage and the same is misconstrued and misinterpreted. IPR poses very potential revenue generating weapon if explored to the fullest but currently local Globe view IPR as cost incurring and requiring very high maintenance cost hence compromise on hiring competent personnel in the field. The IPR statutes interpreted by such personnel are adding altogether negative value to the organisation at times even resulting into incorrect decision.
The damage is irreparable but who cares!! and when it is time to face the repercussion the scapegoat would be "we learn from our mistakes!!"
Apt management of Intellectual property might appear little difficult task at this inchoate stage but not impossible. The pre-requisition is channelised knowledge on the subject, more importantly the IPR activities to be treated as primary and not secondary level irrespective of the industrial type. Further in-house IPM cell comprising of qualified and competent personnel, seeking constant advise on how to monitor and manage the most important wealth of an organisation which is gone unrecognised so far particularly in India.

Copyright Anumoni Joshi 2004 @ The views on the article are personalized and not to be taken as advise prior consulting the author. No portion of this article to be copied, re-posted, translated, transmitted, duplicated or used without the express written consent of the author.

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