As Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) has become a new strategic business tool enhancing industrial competitiveness in market, more and more companies have started showing their concern for the protection of their to protect IP rights. Patent protection of Start-ups has been taken immense seroiusly by the Indian Government. Strong or popular companies holding big brands names have hired a team that deals with all these aspects. Startups on the other hand, doesn’t have ample amount of resources, manpower, and money to utilize them for securing their intellectual rights. Even if they try their best, it is very difficult for them to sustain in this highly competitive world. To secure their limited resources, continuous growth and development oriented innovations are a must for startups; but that also requires a lot of investment.
Patent Protection of Start-Ups
Indian Government came up with a solution to this complex deadlock problem. They have launched a Startups Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP) scheme to facilitate protection of Patents, Trademark and Designs in startups. It was started as a pilot program in the year 2016, which was planned to stay in force up to 31st March, 2017. But, after getting a lot of responses by a number of startups, the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) has decided to extend this scheme for 3 more years, i.e. till 2020. This scheme offers the following benefits to the startups in a very minimal investment, as compared to normal protection process:
- Promotes awareness in startups about the IP rights
- Boosts valuation of the IP rights in startups
- Provides mentorship of professionals for every aspect about patent protection
- Provides competitive advantage by providing access to intellectual property services and resources
- Provides tax benefits to those startups that hold certification of being an eligible business
- Provides extra incentives to startups which successful flourish their products in the market.
Any startup that wants to acquire the benefits of this scheme, have to fulfill the following four pre-requisites of being a startup:
- On the first establishment of this scheme, the startups must be certified from the Startup Certification Board for a valid innovative business idea. But, this condition has been revised and the startup needs not to hold the innovation certificate. Instead the startup must be in terms of notification GSR 180(E) published in the Part II, Section 3, Sub Section (i) of the Gazette of India dated 17.2.2016, as may be amended from time to time.
- Self-declaration by a startup is compulsory stating that they have not taken any sort of funds from any other government scheme.
- Startups which came into force within 5 years from the current date, having a turnover of no more than 25 crore in the previous financial year, are valid to apply for this scheme.
- Startup must not be formed after splitting of an already existed company or business.
IP Facilitators & their role in SIPP scheme
To enhance the enactment of this scheme and to provide on-ground support to the startups, the Government of India has assigned the designations of facilitators to experienced personals. Any patent agent and trademark agent registered under the Controller General of Patent, Trademark and Design (CGPDTM), legal advocates registered under the Bar Council, and people from different government agencies, such as TIFAC, NRDC, etc. can become a facilitator. If in case, the facilitator is not providing services, lagging behind, or stuck to provide the correct guidance, then the CGPDTM can anytime take the position of facilitator from that fellow person.
The IP facilitator is responsible to perform the following tasks concerned with the SIPP scheme:
- To provide advice, assistance, legal information, information on drafting and every specification required in that field
- To provide full support in preparing and filing responses that may be used in the examination reports, e-mails, etc.
- To provide help in contesting opposition support and ensuring final disposal of the IPR application
- To support and appear in the court in every court hearing, whenever it is scheduled.
According to the rules and procedures decided by the government, the following are the payment procedures:
- The facilitators will be getting a fee of ₨ 10,000 at the time of filing of application, ₨ 10,000 at the time of final disposal of application without opposition, and ₨ 15,000 at the time of final disposal of application with opposition.
- The fees may be revised from time to time by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.
- The fee can be claimed directly from the IP office-as per the stage of work completed.
- No startups are required to pay the facilitator’s fee directly to the facilitator. This fee shall be paid directly to the facilitator by the Central Government through the office of the CGPDTM and disbursed by the respective IP office.
- In case that the application is withdrawn or abandoned before disposal of application, facilitator shall be entitled to fees only for filing of application and not for disposal of application.
- In case of any reimbursement, the facilitator has to submit an invoice to the respective IP Office with the Registration ID number obtained from DIPP for the associated startup.
- The government is only liable to provide support through the funds available with the CGPDTM.
- An important aspect to note is that, the startups will only be getting support for the facilitator’s fee which the government is itself paying off. While all the statutory fees associated with every patent after launch of this scheme shall be borne by the startup itself.
Through the launch of this scheme, the startups are getting a platform to showcase their innovation in front of public and their government, for which they are getting financial, legal, technical, and moral support from the government. This initiative has helped more and more startups to come in front without the fear of financial loss, which have motivated others to perform as well. Till date, there are more than 150,000 registrations done, with an average of more than 300 startups getting recognition every month. This scheme has proved well to be a vital bridge in raising new talents and helped a lot in building the economy of our country.
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