In this post-global era, economies are driven by competition and demand.
To be either a successful business or an entrepreneur, one must think of out-of-the-box solutions.
With stiff competition, there is an increasing need to protect the rights of such entrepreneurs and innovators from duplication and unfair use. And therefore there is a rising demand for protection of intellectual property around the world.
But what is intellectual property? Any creation of ideas, art, design or product from the human mind is termed as intellectual property. The rights of the creator of such ideas, arts, design or product are called intellectual property rights.
Let’s delve deeper to understand why it is important to protect intellectual property rights.
What is intellectual property and what is intellectual property rights?
The World Intellectual Property Organisation defines intellectual property as creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.
In simple terms, anything that you create by applying your mind or intellect becomes your intellectual property. For example, you are setting up a business of your own and have designed a logo for your brand. That logo is your intellectual property. Similarly a scientific invention is also an intellectual property.
When you create a logo for your brand, you will want it to be unique and resonate with your brand. You want to stand out from your competitors and also make sure your ideas are not copied or misused. This is where intellectual property rights come in.
Intellectual property rights are given to creators for a specific amount of time. During this time the creator is protected from infringement and can license their product for manufacturing in return for a royalty.
The legal rights provided to the creator or inventor of intellectual property are known as intellectual property rights. Every creator enjoys certain privileges provided by the law that protects the creators from infringement or misuse of their work without their explicit permission. Intellectual property rights also aid creators in putting their work to use for the general public by allowing for commercial licencing.
Intellectual property rights are granted to creators for a limited period of time.
What are the types of intellectual property?
As mentioned earlier, intellectual property is an umbrella term used to describe creations of the human mind. For the purpose of intellectual property rights protection, IP can be categorised as the following:
- Trademarks: This refers to any symbols, logos signs, words and/ or sounds that are unique to a product or business. For example, the trademark blue bird logo for Twitter is its representative of its brand and is protected by intellectual property rights.
- Copyrights: This is applicable to any published work such as books, art work, songs, web content and films, among others. Your favourite cartoon duo Tom and Jerry are artwork copyrighted by Disney.
- Patents: Any new invention that holds the potential being put to commercial use is protected from infringement or duplication by a patent. Recently, pharma major Cipla lost a patent battle to Amgen Inc over the injectable cancer drug Kyprolis.
- Industrial designs: These are features such as shape, pattern, ornament or composition applied to a product by an industrial process such as by chemical process or mechanical process.
- Geographical indicators: A name or sign used on certain products that marks the identity of a particular geographical location or origin is termed as a geographical indicator. For example, West Bengal holds the geographical indicator tag for its beloved Rosogolla.
Indian laws to protect intellectual property
In India, intellectual property rights are protected by a host of laws and rules issued by the government from time to time. Primarily, intellectual property rights are protected by the following legislation and rules:
- Trade Marks Act, 1999 and Trade Marks Rules of 2002 and 2017. Your beloved mango drink Maaza was embroiled in a trademark controversy when Coca Cola claimed infringement of trademark over Bisleri. Originally a drink by Bisleri, the trademarks for the drink was sold to Coca Cola by Bisleri. However, in 2008, Bisleri filed for registering the trademark for Maaza in Turkey, which was then contested by Coca Cola
- The Patents Act, 1970 (as amended in 2005), 2003 Patent Rules and 2016 Patent Amendment Rules
- The Copyright Act, 1957. The most notable case under this Act was the Tips vs Wynk music fallout. Tips Industries and streaming platform Wynk had entered an agreement where the latter was granted a licence to access the large music database of Tips. At the end of this agreement, amid negotiations for extending the agreement, Tips alleged that Wynk was infringeing on its IP. The judgement was in favour of Tips Industries.
- The Designs Act, 2000, and Designs Rules, 2001
- The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999
- The Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout Design Act, 2000
- The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Right Act, 2001
While these laws provide domestic protection to intellectual property rights, India has also signed agreements with various countries for safeguarding intellectual property.
How to protect your intellectual property in India
The intellectual property laws in the country are designed to support innovation and research. In order to reap the benefits of intellectual property rights in the country, the first step is to register your creation. You can register your intellectual property for patents, trademarks or copyrights. In case of an infringement, you can challenge the same as civil disputes in the court of law.
Advantages of intellectual property rights
Here’s why it is important to look after intellectual property rights:
- Ownership: In a competitive world, entrepreneurs, businesses and researchers are constantly trying to outdo each other. A determining factor to win in this competition is ownership of the creation. Intellectual property rights ensure that the creator holds the sole authority over their creation.
- Infringement: With intellectual property rights, creators are protected against any competitor illegally contravening on the creation. For example, an entrepreneur’s scientific invention is their own. They are the sole owner of the creation and can choose to do what they wish with it. Anybody using the scientific invention for any purpose without paying due credit or royalty to the creator is liable to face legal action.
- Commercialisation: Intellectual property rights are of great importance when a creator wishes to commercialise their product. It paves the way for the creator to issue a licence for mass production of the product in exchange for monetary benefits and royalty.
- Learning: While registering a new intellectual property, the creator has to reveal details of the product to the general public. This practice encourages a culture of sharing of information that can be used for further development by contemporaries in the field.
Final note: Intellectual property rights are important drivers of the economic growth of a country. For inventors and entrepreneurs, who are constantly competing with each other to stand out in the market, intellectual property rights are essential.
In India, intellectual property rights safeguard the interests of the inventor. You can bring civil or criminal cases against competitors to enforce your intellectual property rights, depending on the infringement or violation.