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Hey, That Was MY Idea!


Renuka spends most of her time helping and nurturing budding entrepreneurs.
Renuka spends most of her time helping and nurturing budding entrepreneurs.


What do you do after you have come up with a great idea. Protect it of course, says PETRINA JO FERNANDEZ, who tells us about intellectual property rights.

“YOUTHS today are more creative, innovative and business savvy, making them a valuable asset in the increasingly competitive global marketplace,” said Sunitha Janamohanan, arts manager of the British Council.

“Now is the time for creative industries to flourish and encourage young, creative minds to venture into business. While young entrepreneurs have a lot to offer in terms of ideas and creations, they need to know how to protect themselves while marketing those ideas,” said Renuka Sena.

Renuka, an entrepreneur, was actively involved in the starting up of various companies after graduating from King’s College London with a Master’s Degree in Intellectual Property (IP).

As the deputy president of non-profit organisation Technopreneurs Association of Malaysia (TeAM), Renuka spends most of her time helping and nurturing budding entrepreneurs.
“Ordinary people often have extraordinary ideas, but dreams have no financial value,” said Renuka, who is also the director of Mindvault, a successful local IP consultancy which she built from scratch.

“Put your ideas into a tangible form, whether it’s a song, book, or artwork. Document each stage of its conceptualisation as evidence of how your idea evolved. You can’t look at a familiar design on a billboard and yell: ‘Hey, I designed that months ago for a class!’ in the middle of the street and expect people to believe you. After all, without any evidence, it’s hard to prove who thought of what and when,” said the bubbly entrepreneur.

Don’t let her relaxed demeanour and engaging smile fool you. Renuka may be petite in size, but her vast knowledge of IP makes her a formidable figure to parties who have any intention of exploiting the creativity of young people.

“As an entrepreneur, I know how it feels to have a dream you strongly believe in. I’m passionate about my work at Mindvault because we’re slowly educating more small businesses about their rights in IP through seminars and clinics.

“TeAM, on the other hand, is a channel for small companies to talk to government bodies about grants. Large companies are well-looked after, but the ‘small boys’ sometimes go unheard. TeAM gives them a voice, as the voices of many are louder than the voice of one.”

According to Renuka, the IP field in Malaysia took off in the last five years. While there is a growing awareness on the importance of IP, many businesses still lack the necessary knowledge.

“If, for instance, a band composed a song together, who’d own the completed song? Can a member sell the song without the consent of the rest of the band? How do the band members protect their interests when they approach record companies?”

Most organisations learn early on to establish policies to prevent misunderstandings on creative ownership. In commercial enterprises, for example, the law states that all creative materials belong to the company who paid for its development, regardless of who conceptualised or designed the product.

However, there are no such clear boundaries among informal social groups who start something just to have fun but succeed in commercialising their “product”.

To prevent such misunderstandings, Renuka advised that such details be ironed out right from the start.

“It’s especially important to discuss details such as who gets recognition for the completed result in the beginning itself,” said Renuka.

“As uncomfortable or awkward as it may be, it’s far better to work these out while you’re still friends and still excited about your new venture. Things can get ugly once money and fame enter into the picture.”

At the same time, young creative entrepreneurs should also familiarise themselves with their basic rights in intellectual property.

“Most creative young entrepreneurs don’t realise they have a right to negotiate on terms and conditions presented to them,” said Renuka.

“When a record company approaches a band and says, ‘You get so-and-so percentage of the profits,’ it doesn’t mean you have to agree. IP advisors or consultants can help you determine where you stand.

“The road to success is never easy,” said Renuka, adding, “I’ve mortgaged my house and my car but it was worth it. I learned that it’s all right to fail, as long as you don’t let failure stop you. You have that revolutionary idea. So start the revolution!”

British Council and Mindvault are conducting various informational and entertaining activities pertaining to the development of young creative entrepreneurs in conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week today. Those interested are welcome to drop by.

For details, call Mindvault or TeAM at 03-6203-5070 or 03-23001800, respectively. You can also call the British Council at 03-2723-7900.

Types of Intellectual Property

Below are the types of Intellectual Property:

The most pervasive form of IP, patents are a form of legal protection given to new inventions that are industrially applicable, such as wheels. The patent owner is granted exclusive rights to exploit, assign and license the patented invention.

A copyright is a legal protection given to works of creative expression, including literature, music, art, films and software. The work must be tangible and original for copyright purposes. The owner of a copyrighted work is given exclusive rights such as the right to reproduce and sell the work.

A trademark is a name, brand or logo that the law defines as something that belongs to you. It is used to distinguish and identify your goods or services from those of another person. For instance, McDonald’s “golden arch” distinguishes it from other fast food brands.

Industrial Design
An industrial design is the external look of an item, referred specifically to the object’s appearance and not its technical characteristics or features. The unique design of Mac’s Apple computers is an example of an industrial design.

Trade Secrets and Confidential Information
Trade secrets can be a formula, process or compilation of information not generally known to the public, by which the company goes to some extent to maintain its secrecy in order to obtain an economic advantage over its competitors. KFC’s famous 11 herbs and spices and Coca-Cola’s formula are considered trade secrets.

• Info taken from Mindvault’s website


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