Before we dig into the importance of protecting intellectual property, we need to understand what it is and how it is used. Intellectual property (abbreviated often as IP) covers any original ideas, concepts or projects produced by an individual or a group. This term is far more used now since information is widely available now and can be accessed by almost anyone.
Here, we are going to discuss the importance of intellectual property for companies. Intellectual property protection isn’t vital only for original innovations to be copied or stolen. It ensures that with your content the company can benefit more people in a legal way without violating your company’s rights. Without protecting their IP, businesses risk not reaping full benefits of their product or idea which may eventually lead to demotivation. A company’s IP rights are to be protected due to a number of reasons. It sets your business apart from the rest, it gives you an advantage and labels you as an innovator. There are a number of methods to protect your intellectual property, which we will discuss one by one. We will also be using the example of 5G Technology in Malaysia so these can be applied in a real-world scenario!
A patent is a right given or granted to an innovator by the government that allows them to exclude other manufacturers from building, using or selling the idea in any shape or form (Stim, 2020). The patent holder, however, is allowed to share or sell his patent with the people they trust (FindLaw, 2019). In terms of 5g networks and the technologies that born from it. It is absolutely vital that the companies patent their ideas as 5g. Although a future technology and not very common. But it is under development and has the potential to grow into the market exponentially. As of February of 2020, Huawei leads the race for the most approved patents on the matter as shown by the infographic below provided by Statista.
These are only 8 companies, however there are hundreds more that have secured certain patents. The question is if 5G is to be provided by mobile networks companies, why are they not on the list. Well to answer that we should know that the mobile manufacturing companies will have to make sure that the phones they make can handle the 5G technologies as well as these big corporations will be the ones building the cellular towers. For example, Huawei has partnered with network companies all across Asia to provide them with this technology.
This will not only benefit Huawei in terms of creating a virtual monopoly but also the networking companies. Similarly, Samsung created its AMOLED screen displays which the company got patented immediately and those screens are now being used in most of the other companies’ phones like Huawei, Google etc.
Cons Of Patents
Whilst being undoubtedly, useful in protecting intellectual property. Patents, like every other thing, comes with some of it cons as well:
- Details of the invention/idea of the innovator are publicly disclosed. Whilst filing for a patent, the innovator has to disclose everything which may be advantageous to its competitors.
- Time consuming: It roughly takes about 3-4 years for a patent to be granted. This is sufficient time for the technology to be outdated.
- Expensive: When filing for a patent there are certain fees. Patent fees, attorney fees that need to be met that usually come around 2000-5000 even when unsuccessful. As well as it costs to maintain a patent.
By definition, a trademark can be defined as any sign, image, video, phrase that holds the capability graphically of distinguishing goods and/or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings. Linking trademarks to 5g, they would be vital in marketing campaigns and advertisements. A good example of this would be Digi’s 5G OpenLab which is “Malaysia’s first of its kind 5Gpowered collaborative space open for all academics, universities, start-ups, developers, and businesses to trial and explore infinite possibilities with 5G”. Digi has patented the idea and concept of having this open lab. For innovators long before even the technology of 5G is common.
Whilst it primarily protects its marketing campaign, it does come with some baggage such as; To validate a trademark, attorneys are needed to be hired in order to defend a validation for trademark. Often in the case of descriptive trademarks, litigations cause the 1st party to be not in favor in court. Trademarks have a great measure of unpredictability in the marketing area, so there is no way to find out if a trademark on something will be worth it in the next 2-3 years.
A copyright can be said to be as a collection of rights that automatically implicates someone who creates an original form of work of authorship. This work can not be an idea or a thought but a literary work (Songs, Movie, software). These rights can include the right to re-make the work. To improve said works, to distribute, and to perform and display the work publicly. Relating Copyrights to 5G technology, it is important for companies to copyright the software they produce as at the end of the day its going to matter whose technology is better, even If it is just barely visible. Due to the main fact that copyrights are easy to register, every idea, every innovation gets copyrighted. Which usually leads to heavy cases in court later.
As implied by the name, trade secrets are the details of a project usually hidden from the general public as information such can be sensitive to potential business. For Example, most network providers in Malaysia have not disclosed what company they are going to be linked to in order to distribute the technology.
Even if they have details such as financials are usually kept on the down-low as it tends to affect future business for either of the parties. Eventually, Intellectual property should be treated as a business asset by companies. As mentioned above, it sets a business apart from its competitors whilst generating a stream of revenue which is well deserved.
Often, it is seen that companies overlook protecting their IP due to the cost. Arguably it may cost more than a business would expect but it is very vital in the long run. It is better for companies to spend the money rather than risk it to lose their innovation. Especially if you are a small business, risking your innovation to competitors affects your market share. Resulting in slow growth as It is solely a company’s responsibility to check if its innovation is being used elsewhere.
While every technology differs from others in one form or another. These are just a general idea of legal proceedings that most Companies have to go through. Most of these procedures can take as little as a day. And as long as years before the matter is solved. And with technology advancing as rapidly as it is today, maybe there needs to be a standard.
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