BY – Akhil Melvitill
An Introduction to Intellectual Property Rights and their Significance in Indian Context
Intellectual property means any original creation or invention of the human mind such as artistic, literary, technical, or scientific creation. Intellectual property rights (IPR) defines legal rights given to the inventor or creator to safeguard his invention or author or creator for a certain period. The term intellectual property indicates the product of the mind or the intellect, and that Intellectual Property rights may be protected by law in the same means as any other form of property. There was high protection and enforcement of IPRs to the extent of solemn international commitment because of the successful end of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in World Trade Organization.
According to Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights , the intellectual property rights are:
- Patent: A patent is a legal right provided or offered to an invention, which is a product or process that offers a new approach of doing something or new technical solution to a problem. A patent is a protection for the inventions of patent holders.
- Copyright and related rights: Copyright is a protection for authors, artists and other creators of their literary and artistic creations.
- Trademark: A trademark is a unique sign concerning certain goods or services that an individual or a company produces or provides. Trademark protection is enforced by courts to stop the infringement of trademarks.
- Industrial Design: Industrial Design refers to the unique and aesthetic elements of an object. A design includes three-dimensional objects such as the outline or surface of an article or two-dimensional features such as shapes, lines or colors.
- Geographical Indications (GI): A Geographical Indication is a sign or mark used on goods that specifies geographical origin and have qualities or a reputation essentially attributable to its place of origin.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY SYSTEM IN INDIA
The Development of World Trade Organization (WTO) was an outcome of International trade calls and structure of trade calls for agreement of several facets of Indian Law relating to Intellectual Property Rights. The TRIPS agreement set minimum standards for protection for Intellectual Property Rights and to satisfy the required level of protection. In view of this, India has made several modifications and amended various IP Acts in the last few years.
- The Patents Act,1970: India, after signing the TRIPS agreement and forming part of the Agreement established for the purpose of minimizing distortions and impairments to international trade and providing legal protection of intellectual property rights, became signatory to it. It has been amended several times to align under the TRIPS agreement. The amendments were focused on making the Act a modern, balanced and accessible legislation for protection of national and public interests along with fulfilling India’s international obligations under the TRIPS Agreement.
- The Copyright Act,1957: The Copyright Act, 1957 is one of the earliest existing intellectual property rights acts. It has been amended several times to comply with global trade and commerce. This act protects the right of literary, artistic, musical works and sound recordings and films. Under the Copyright Act , the author not only gets right to the authorship but also gets right under which without their prior permission their work cannot be adapted. If any adaptations were made against their will can be brought into court and claim any kind of damages or to stop the such immediately. The creators of copyrighted works and Copyright holders (Heirs & Successors) have certain fundamental rights under copyright law. They are entitled to use or authorize others to use the work under agreed terms.
- The Trademarks Acts,1999: The law of trademarks is also developed under the Trademarks Act of 1999. A trademark is a unique symbol for differentiating the goods offered for sale or put in the market by one dealer from another. In India, the trademarks were protected for more than 40 years as per the provisions of the Trade and Merchandise Mark Act, 1958. This Act restricts the unjust competitors from using similar distinguishing signs to market subsidiary products or services.
- The Designs Act,2000: Industrial design contains the features such as shape, appearance, pattern, arrangements of lines or colors applied to any item or object either in two dimensional or three dimensional or both forms. The Industrial product consists of two factors, i.e. artistic work and functioning part of the product. In the Design Act only artistic work is considered and the artistic work should be unique. The licensed Industrial design owner or design patent owner has the right to prohibit third parties from making, distributing or importing products containing a design that is a duplicate, or a copy, of the covered design when such actions are carried out for commercial purposes.
- The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act,1999: A geographical indication consists of name or sign used on certain products which represents a specific geographical location or place of origin. We often see these geographical indications in agricultural products (Assam Coffee Powder, Darjeeling Tea).
- The Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout‐Designs Act, 2000: In the case of layout designs of integrated circuits the property consists in the sole right to use the layout design registered under the law in respect to the category of goods which are registered for a specified period. The right can also be licensed for use by third party or assign to any individual
- The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001:This act recognizes the Individual and BOI (community) roles played by farmers and their interests in improvement and conservation of varieties. This sui generis law has a combination of IPR knowledge and public interests provisions that coordinate the balance between farmers and seeds manufacturing or genetically advanced research labs and marketing companies.
- Trade Secret (undisclosed or confidential information) ‐No codified law yet but covered by the contract and Common Law: A private or undisclosed business data that provides a business an edge to a competition is called Trade Secret. Such data can be both manufacturing and commercial secrets.
- The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (Take into consideration certain aspects of Traditional Knowledge): Biodiversity consists of millions of races, local variants of species and sub-species, mainly recognized as genetic, species and ecosystem.The convention on biological diversity states that a country should ease the access for genetic resources by other parties on agreed terms, but the access need prior information consent of country producing the utilities.
Intellectual Property Rights are very important for societal development. It is very much essential to the policy makers to include and promote IPR in the basic education system by encouraging the creators and inventors.