Friday 22 February 2013

National Seminar on IPR in Electronics & IT Sector:“Enabling Electronics & IT sector to leverage IPR for Competitiveness

S. Jagathis
IP Dome

Swapna Sundar, CEO, IP Dome – IP Strategy Advisors was invited to address two sessions at the National Seminar on IPR in Electronics & IT Sector:“Enabling Electronics & IT sector to leverage IPR for Competitiveness”on 8 February 2013, at Hotel Aditya Park, Hyderabad. The programme was organised jointly by the CII, the Andhra Pradesh Technology Development and Promotion Centre, and the Department of Electronics and IT. An eminent panel of speakers gave their opinion and advised the delegates on a variety of issues concerning the intersection between IP and the Electronics and IT sector including protection, enforcement and licensing.

The inaugural speakers gave a historical account of the socio-economic underpinning of the sector.

Drawing upon their vast experience in the sector,the speakers - Prof.SouravBharti, IPR faculty NALSAR university of law,  Dr.VishwanathanSeshan, India - Head of IP&S India at Philips Electronics India Ltd., Dr.SubhadipSarkar, Director- IP, Cognizant Technology Solutions Ltd., Mr.Tabrez Ahmad, Chairman of the IP committee, Manufacturer’s Association for IT, Mr. Dawn Jos, patent strategy manager, Texas Instruments, Mr.Lakshmeesha, IP Manager, GRC Pace, GE India, and Mr. R. Muralidharan, IP attorney addressed the various concerns arising from the use and infringement of IP in the Electronics and IT sectors, and recommended strategies to overcome them.

Swapna Sundar addressed two sessions. In her first session as opening speaker of the technical  sessions, she spoke about the Importance of IPR for the E&IT sector from her experience of working with SME entities in the E&IT sector.  The importance of IPR for business cannot be stressed enough, there being only two ways of increasing the output of any industry: either the input would have to increase, or the cleverness with which input is used is improved to see increased output from the same input. IP is a tool that enables business to leverage their input and resources to increase their output.

IPRs provide a basis for businesses to prevent copying of products, but also enable them to increase their brand identity, identify and protect their product lines and markets from competitors and fulfil several critical functions to ensure sustainable competitive advantage. IPR enables the economy to generate more jobs and also pay workers better. Tacit knowledge of manufacturing, stacking of technologies, shorter product life of technologies and ubiquitous implications for pervasive technologies are some peculiar characteristics in the E&IT sector that have impacted the form of IP that is valuable in the sector.

The evolving uses and importance of IPR in the sector differs from enterprise to enterprise based on several criteria including size, maturity and strategic goals. In a small and successful IT company looking for funding, IP provides much needed leverage and assets, and convinces the investor of the technical competency of the team. In mature E&IT companies, IP enables safe and effective diversification and exploration of new channels of revenue. IP also enables the company to create new product lines. In a start-up with a single, but highly effective technology, IP enables development of the product, sustainable advantage, licensing opportunities and opportunity to get acquired by a larger entity. It is important for a company intending to build an IP portfolio to align IP creation with strategic goals of the company and the present and future technical competence of the team. Specific requirements such as AICTE regulations, or sponsored research grants from the government can provide impetus to such a goal.

In the last session of the day, she followed an engaging presentation by Mr.Muralidharan to handle Winning global litigation strategies in the E&IT sector. The Apple V. Samsung battle in various jurisdictions has provided analysts and excellent opportunity to study the sector and different fora for litigation and enforcement of IP rights. Beginning with the Apple/Samsung design battle at UK, Swapna explored the subtle nuances of the role played by Design rights in E&IT products. Five lessons can be drawn from this litigation for Indian companies. Among them, perhaps ‘creative learning’ from JV partners, and intelligent revisions to existing designs are important. Apart from this, Indian companies should also learn to develop and protect their own IP so that they can be leveraged in negotiations and also independently licensed out.

Litigation strategies adopted by different companies in the global arena were highlighted in the session. The Apple/Samsung battle demonstrates several interesting strategies including use of multiple courts and jurisdictions, pre-litigation strategies including injunctions, and use of public relations and customer satisfaction with products. Other strategies deserving mention are ‘bifurcation’ of causes such as filing revocation petition at the IP Appellate Board simultaneously with a declaratory suit at a civil court, deciding on speedy or slow trials and courts, and strategies to keep costs low.

Both sessions were well-received. 

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