Monday, April 28, 2008

Protecting Intellectual Property in India: a basic checklist

If you are currently manufacturing in India or are considering doing so, Law Wire℠ offers these ideas as a checklist for IP protection:

Educate Employees: Employees are the source of most IP losses, often unintentionally. Don’t rely on basic, theoretical training when an employee is hired; focus instead on situational, practical training that relates to everyday work. Consider using the term “Information Protection,” which may resonate more than the academic sounding “Intellectual Property.”
Enforce “Need to Know” Information Sharing and Access: While non-disclosure agreements should be used, the reality is that trying to enforce them after an employee leaves the company in India is most often a losing battle. Better to not share everything with employees, and limit access to documents, databases, and other information on a “need to know” basis. But there are other more basic steps as well: For example, “it shouldn't be possible for someone to walk through the production process and read gauges to cull data such as line speeds and critical temperatures and pressures. That data can easily be disguised by installing gauges with erroneous readings decipherable only to those who need the information,” according to Law Wire℠.
Be Quick with Patent and Trademark Registration: Most companies don’t know that, in India, patents are awarded to the first to file, not necessarily to the originator of the product or technology. Similar problems exist with trademarks, as locals file trademarks that are the most likely translations of Western names and brands. There’s no magic bullet here, and companies may have to buy their way out of many situations, but filing patents and trademarks as early as possible can mitigate the risk.
Keep Up with Emerging Knowledge and Best Practices: Too many Western companies fail to keep up to date with the latest ideas and practices after entering the Indian market, to their peril. One source is the Quality Brands Protection Committee, whose members include many major multi-national companies.
Put a Top Executive in Charge of IP Security, and Think Globally: In too many companies, IP protection is fragmented among different individuals and functions. It is critical to place a single senior executive in charge of overall IP protection, and to take a truly global, not just India-centric view.

“A company's strategy in India must be part of a global strategy for intellectual-property protection, since a leak anywhere can be taken advantage of around the world,” Law Wire℠ observes.

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