You have an Idea or a concept. What do you do to protect it?

You have an idea or a concept which you think if implemented will earn you millions.

The bitter truth – mere Ideas and Concepts cannot be protected.

You must express them in some material form if they are to be protected.

Before disclosing it to someone, you must know how to protect it. To do so you must first understand the basics of whether your idea can qualify as intellectual property and whether it is capable of any protection under the various IP laws. Ideas may be of any kind – it may be an idea relating to a new logo, a new novel, a new musical work, a new song, a new invention, a new design for a chair, etc. Keep in mind that your idea or concept is not disclosed till it is put in tangible form and protected without a confidentiality agreement.

Here is a brief analysis of the various IP laws.

Copyright Law:  Copyright Act protects different types of works viz. literary works (novels/stories), artistic works (paintings), dramatic works (plays), musical works (songs), sound recordings, movies, etc.

Although mere ideas and concepts are not protectable, but when put in some tangible form, that expression can be protected under Copyright Law. Any original work that is fixed in a tangible form of expression and which can be reproduced and communicated is protectable.

For example, if the work is written down or typed or dictated and stored in any format which can be viewed or communicated and reproduced, such work that is the written or typed or dictated version can be protected.

One important factor to remember is that registration of the work is not compulsory and the author get copyright in the work the second it is put in some tangible form.

Copyright protection promotes creativity by providing protection for a very long period of time which extends to beyond the life of the author.

Trademark Law: Trademark Law protects marks and helps the consumer identify the source of the product or services. Registration of a trademark is not compulsory and one acquires rights in the mark even by use of the same. Registration, however, offers some additional benefits. Registration of a trademark is valid only for a period of 10 years but can be renewed indefinitely every 10 years.

Patent Law:  A patent is an exclusive right granted for a limited period of time to any person in consideration for his disclosure of the invention. An invention can be in respect of any new and useful process or a product. Patents cannot be mere abstract concepts or ideas

An invention is to find out or discover something not found or discovered by anyone earlier. It could be something as simple as a paper clip. For an invention to be patentable besides being new and novel, it should also involve an inventive step and should be capable of industrial application.

Patent protection is also for a limited period of 20 years, after which the invention is available for everyone to use.

Design Law:  Design Law protects features of shape, configuration, pattern, ornamentation or composition of lines or colours applied to any article by an industrial process, which appeals to the eye alone. No protection can be given for any mode or principle of construction or mere mechanical device or artistic work falling under the Copyright Act.

Thus, a design for a chair or table that has novelty in the features of shape or pattern or ornamentation can be registered. If the design has been disclosed to the public or is not different from existing designs cannot be registered.

Once registered it is valid for a maximum period of 15 years after which it falls in the public domain.

Confidentiality/Non-Disclosure Agreements: Confidentiality or Non-Disclosure agreements are a very handy tool to protect your work. One can enter into confidentiality agreements with persons to whom the secret is being disclosed. In India, there is no specific law protecting trade secrets but they can be protected under the Indian Contract Act, 1872. Do not disclose anything before you enter into a written agreement.

If you are confused or require any additional information you may visit our website for more information or contact us to talk to one of our experienced attorneys.

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