When it comes to businesses, technological innovation serves as the foremost detriment of success for the performance of a firm, making one business stand out from the other. Every business aims to better its competition to thrive in today’s economic conditions. Innovation and Intellectual Property Rights thus go hand in hand. Every business is on the fast track to bring something new and exciting for the customer, whose general attention span, nowadays, is lower. Customers are always looking for improvements in existing products. As such, innovation and IP together make for a wild combination that businesses rely on to take their innovations to the public by launching superior products and services.
In order to understand the role of tools in an IP system, it is first necessary to look at a technological innovation as an interactive process which consists of a number of varying stages. Intellectual Property in the new technological age begins with formulating a unique idea or concept and after going through several stages, ends when a new/improved product is launched and marketed successfully in the marketplace. As such, technological innovations consider practical IP issues, relevant at different stages in the entire process of product development where technology may be introduced from one stage to another in the value chain – beginning with the producer and ending with the end user. Technological innovation and IP starts with the idea stage and moves to the research and development stage.
Most people make the mistake of assuming that innovation and invention are one and the same. But when it comes to business and technology, the two terms cannot be used interchangeably. While the former is concerned with commercialising new ideas, the latter is not associated with commercialisation directly. Thus, innovation is often seen as the process of interacting and collecting feedback during the different stages of the process of product development. On the other hand, an invention is essentially regarded as something that generates a new idea, often aimed at solving specific, technical problems.
– When something is invented, the inventor follows a certain, due process – from converting an idea or a thought into a tangible product to assembling the product invented. These inventions are fundamentally protected by trade secrets, patents and/or utility designs. Patents, trade secrets and utility designs are widely regarded as intellectual property rights and need to be registered by the inventor in accordance with the relevant national or regional laws governing the land in which the invention takes place. The inventor has the right to monopolise or commercialise the invention, specifically preventing the competition from seeking monetary benefits, by filing the necessary patents or utility designs. However, the importance of Intellectual Property Rights in science and technology – specifically with regards to invention, lies in the fact that when a new invention is launched, the benefits are shared by both – the inventor and the public that contributes to the financial success of the invention. In case an invention is successful, other inventors may build upon it, (albeit after a specific period of time to allow the original inventor to reap the benefits of his/her invention) thus improving the existing model. As such, an invention never remains one dimensional – it is continuously improved and the improvements can be contributed by anyone, not just the individual credited for inventing the product/service.
Although used synonymously, innovation and invention are two different things. The former term is used in reference to the process; something that starts when an idea is conceived until a new product or process is launched in the market. Innovation is indeed at the core of Intellectual Property and technology and IP rights can be effectively used to facilitate successful innovation in the technology space. If IPs are used strategically, technologies which are innovative are often more successful in reaching the marketplace. Also, unlike most innovations, when it comes to technology, focusing on patents is not sufficient since there are other tools also engaged in the process of technological IP. As such a broader approach is necessary.