Branding, customer data, technology such as software, mobile applications, etc., form an integral part of the intellectual property (IP) portfolio of any start-up company. Protection of IP is crucial for startups in view of the value it brings to the business right from attracting investors and making financing easier to leveraging against competition, generating revenue from licensing, assignment or transfer arrangements, and contributing to the company’s branding and marketing strategy. Given the above, startups need to invest and take as many measures as they can to protect their IP.
Perils of infringement
In addition to protecting their IP from third party infringement, startups should be aware of others’ IP rights to ensure that someone else’s rights will not limit them or prevent them from operating their business. There have been various cases where prominent brand names or logos have been infringed and the courts have passed restraining orders or injunctions in relation to the infringements.
In December 2014, Delhi High Court in Make My Trip (India) Pvt Ltd v Make My Tours Pvt Ltd held that the defendant (Make My Tours) had infringed the mark and logo of the plaintiff (Make My Trip) on the grounds that use of the mark and logo by the defendant was likely to cause confusion and deception and was bound to mislead the public to believe that the plaintiff was the source of the defendant’s services. Hence the court ordered an injunction to prevent the defendant from using the same mark and logo.
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Rajesh Begur is the managing partner of ARA LAW, a first-generation law firm with offices in Mumbai and Bengaluru. Pooja Chitalia is a senior associate at the firm.
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