The Importance of IPR in the Healthcare Domain

“Intellectual property is the oil of the 21st century.”
– Mark Getty

Getty said it wisely. Intellectual property is now a must-have asset for every company, especially ones in the healthcare domain. Did you know that there are 3,224,200 patent applications in the world? That aligns with the idea that:

The money used to file for an IPR application is not an expense; it is an investment.
In this article, we are going to delve into understanding the importance of IPR for entrepreneurs. To get valuable insights on this topic, we spoke to Dr. Lipika Sahoo, a registered patent and trademark agent who is also the founder of Lifeintelect Consultancy Pvt. Ltd and Dr. Vinita Jindal, Registered Patent Agent and Registered Technology Transfer Professional and working with BIRAC as Chief Manager – IP & Technology Management.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property consists of intangible creations that stem out of human intellect.
Majorly, there are four types of intellectual property:

  1. Patents
  2. Trademarks
  3. Copyrights
  4. Trade secrets

There are also:

  1. Industrial design
  2. Trade dress
  3. Geographical indication

Dr. Lipika said, “Length and scope of protection of different types of IP are varied. For example, the product and processes of a drug development platform can be protected by Patents. In addition, underlying computer code & user manuals can be protected by Copyright Registration. Furthermore, the user interface, shape/ design of the product can be protected through Industrial Design protection. Trademark can be filed for the name, logo, tagline, etc., for the company or even for a product line.  The more time your trademark is used in the market, the more value it has,” and added, “We don’t have a specific legislature for trade secrets. Still, it would be best to create agreements with your employees for confidentiality to protect your company’s Tradesecret. The company should also have regular audits for the trade secrets.”

Things you should know before filing for IPR:

  • Is your idea patentable or not?
  • Your idea should be new or novel.
  • Bring out the usefulness of your idea.

Why Is It Important for Entrepreneurs in the Healthcare Domain?

“If you look at the Fortune 500 companies, more than 85% of their assets are in intellectual property. It is about creating an asset for your company. The company should look at developing a holistic IP portfolio,” informs Dr. Lipika.

Furthermore, she adds, “Top companies like Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, or medical devices companies like Medtronics are mature, diversified and IP heavy companies. For example, Medtronics has a strong IP portfolio; its core business is generating and protecting IP. One is heavy patenting strategy; second is, aggressive litigation approach and third is vigorous protection for different kinds of products”.

So how exactly does IPR help entrepreneurs in the medical domain?

  1. Fosters Innovation & Business Ideas
    On their own, ideas are not worth anything. But through intellectual property, your ideas can be turned into innovation, which is commercially viable and can be turned into a product or service.

  1. Helps in Securing Grants & Funds
    This is coming straight from the expert, Dr. Vinita. She enlightens, “MedTech innovations are incremental innovations. These need 360-degree protection. Be it design, patent, or trademark. That’s why IP protection is necessary. In fact, even to raise funds from private investors, a strong IPR portfolio is necessary.”

  1. Creates a Stronger Financial Portfolio
    Apart from the usual portfolio of bonds, stocks, etc., that a company has, it should also have intellectual property in it. Let’s take Google, for example. The word “Google” is trademarked and is now worth USD 44 billion. That’s 27% of the company’s worth!

  1. Creates a Financial Net
    Your intellectual property assets are something your startup or company can fall back on. Dr. Vinita had a fascinating insight to offer. She said, “These intellectual property assets can be used in tough times like when a startup has to  close down or declared bankruptcy, they can sell out and use their intellectual property as an asset and get a significant boost.”

  1. Provides Protection
    There is a need to protect inventions in the healthcare domain as every product or service is unique. If that is not protected through IPR, anyone can use the prototype or a blueprint to develop a similar product of their own and do a business out of it. 

Waking up to IPR

India is still waking up to IPR. For example, in 2019, 316,798 industrial trademarks were registered in India. However, given the number of pandemic-fuelled innovations in the healthcare sector, these registrations must be much higher in number. But a good sign is that in 2008, only 100,857 industrial trademarks were registered. In 11 years, we have more than doubled our trademark registrations. 

We hope this article helps you understand the importance of IPR as an entrepreneur. Protecting your idea and innovations is the 21st century’s prerequisite for success.

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