Understanding Intellectual Property Rights: Introduction

After interacting with several startups all I understood is, Intellectual Property rights are one of the most required and least known knowledge areas for any kind of business. Some how we are so ingrained to mind our own business that we just forget how important it is to protect that business from unwanted hassles, and what is the business advantage. True that we don’t need to be an attorney, or hire one to run a Business, but still a basic understanding of the same will definitely do good.


Like many of us I had a rough idea about what Intellectual Property rights are, after attending several startup events and meeting enough innovators who pop ideas on the fly and yet don’t know how to protect one; I have now decided myself go through the tons of resources online and create some quick nuggets that will help Business owners and Professionals know what Intellectual Property Rights are.

This would be a course of posts that will try to compile knowledge from various sources to give you a gist of what you are required to know. Do note that I am no where giving you any power that you simply start assuming everything and think that an IP professional is not required. What I intend is to give you the basics, and rather know how important an IP Professionals advice is to save your day. Here we go.

What is an Intellectual Property?

The word intellectual is described b the Merriam-Webster dictionary as: of or related to or guided by the intellect. It is something which is an outcome of your thinking. It can be anything. From a simple blog post like this, to Yanni’s composition. We apply our intellectual powers in daily life. To solve problems, to find opportunities, or to expedite something.
Intellectual Property is defined as a business’s proprietary knowledge. A logo, taste, feel or structure of the product which differentiates the brand. We connect with the logo of a peacock in CNBC, the shape of a Coke bottle, the design of a Merc and the music our favorite track. These are all properties of their respective owners.

Take an example, you are looking forward to invest in stock markets and are now deciding between buying one of the two Stock Market guides available at a book store. Both the book seems equally good. You are confused which one to pick! But you also know that CNBC is a market leader in providing news about Share markets. If someone starts selling a book on Stock Market with a big logo of CNBC on it, will you buy that book? Won’t it help with increase in the sales? And if the content is futile, won’t it degrade the image of CNBC? Just by adding a logo on cover of the book we can actually appreciate or depreciate a brand by millions of dollars. What if someone blindly copies the design of an iPod and starts selling it? A business needs to ensure that all its intellectual ideas are well protected and are not misused by any Intellectual Property theft.

Just before going any further; do remember that an idea simply residing in your brain can’t be secured by IP rights. Because it’s not your property! Now what do I mean with that is, you can’t restrict some one else from thinking the same thing that you thought, right? But if you have acted upon your thought and written down that blog post, or song, designed that logo or structured that design. It’s an outcome. And an outcome can be protected. Also do note that, something which is very obvious also can’t be copyrighted.

So now, what is an Intellectual Property Right?

Taking the above discussion forward, an intellectual property right or law gives you exclusive rights over your creation. And since it’s your intellectual property, (emphasize property), it can be sold, traded and dealt with like any other property. Unclear? Let’s take an example to understand.

Recently LG has launched a new model called the Giorgio Armani mobile phone. Now does that mean Armani is getting into producing mobiles? No, absolutely not. LG will be using the goodwill of the name Giorgio Armani to boost sales of its new mobile phone which is made for the people with a “Lifestyle” so to say. So shouldn’t Giorgio Armani get some share of the profit for lending their name? That’s how you utilize your Intellectual Property power, once the property is well known.

Types of Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property is mostly classified into two. Will add intellectual property examples so that you understand well.

  1. Copyrights – This contains your literary work, poems, multimedia etc.
  2. Industrial Rights – This includes
    1. Patents – A shoe fastener or the Velcro in a child’s shoe is a patented idea.
    2. Trademarks – The big M and the tagline “I’m lovin’ it”, are trademarks that belong to Mac Donald’s.
    3. Trade Secrets – The most repeated one in this category is the taste of Coca-Cola. The recipe is Coke’s trade secret.

There are other intellectual properties like registered designs that also can be registered and protected. Also there is a fair use clause which we will discuss in the post where we will have copyright explained.

In the coming posts will highlight the key understanding required for each of the above subcategories.

Finally a strong advice before leaving. All the information available here is just for education purposes and it intends no warranty or guarantee. When you are ready to take plunge in the world of IP all you would first need is an IP professional who will help you out in understanding the course, getting your property registered and protecting it from infringements. You have to abide to laws applicable to your state and yes it depends on the country you are in. (Also the brands mentioned here are just for educational purpose and are property of their respective owners)

So now you have a fair understanding of what IP is, next time on will probably gather some nuggets on Copyrights for all of you.

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Adesoji Adegbulu February 21, 2010 at 6:06 pm

I once worked in an Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer department of one of the Science and Technology Institute in Nigeria. U took my time out to study all I could on IP.

I must say you are right on point.

Are you aware of the Internation IP organization?

Chanda Himanshu February 21, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Hi Adesoji,

Thanks for the comment. Are you referring to http://www.wipo.int If so yes I am aware and for writing this post I did go through tons of content to out of which this site was one. But having said that IP issues as per me are very country specific if you want to get any or defend your IP. Isnt it?

Incase if I am referring to the wrong site, please feel free to rectify me. And yes I do appreciate your comment


Sakshi July 13, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Dis was reali helpfl 4 me .went through many links out f which ur concepts were to d point n bettr expressed .Thnx

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