An Introduction to Intellectual Property Laws

intellectual property rights in india

We are baffled by the term intellectual property rights. When we hear people talking about IPR the common man thinks that it is something meant for a very serious inventor only. It is not so.

World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) defines intellectual property as the creation of minds. That is, anything that you create using your intellect is intellectual property. Intellectual property rights are the rights of such a creator over his/her creations. It is as simple as that. You need not create something path-breaking to claim IPR. Even a simple artwork done by a child is eligible to be protected under intellectual property law.

The intellectual property right is an intangible right. Your right to your intellectual property is like your right to regular property. An owner of intellectual property right is given an exclusive monopoly to exploit the creation. You may choose to monetize it or hold it as such. The catch is that nobody else can reap the benefits of your intellectual property without your explicit consent.

A brief overview of different types of intellectual property rights:

  1. Patents: Patents are the most well known intellectual property rights that are granted to an inventor to make, use and sell his invention. To register a patent, the invention must be novel and be in accordance with the provisions of Patents Act, 1970. To claim protection under the Act, one must hold a registered patent or a patent application in process.
  1. Trademarks: Trademarks are another commonly known intellectual property rights. The law relating to trademark is the Trademarks Act, 1999. Trademark protects the goodwill one has built with his brand name. it is not compulsory to register a trademark. Even if you have a brand name without a registered trademark, you can file a passing off suit against anyone who is trying to use your brand name.
  1. Copyrights: Copyrights are protection given to a creator with regard to his original creation. Ideas or concepts cannot be copyrighted. Copyrights are a unique form of intellectual property rights because it starts right from the moment a copyrightable material is created. It does not require any form of registration though registration may ease any litigation in case of infringement. In India, copyrights are protected under the Copyright Act, 1957.
  1. Industrial Designs: The Designs Act, 2000 protects any industrial design that is novel and original and has aesthetic value. It can be two dimensional or three dimensional. The object of the Designs Act is to protect new or original designs so created to be applied or applicable to a particular article to be manufactured by Industrial Processor means. Sometimes the purchase of articles for use is influenced not only by their practical efficiency but also by their appearance. The important purpose of design Registration is to see that the artisan, creator, originator of a design having aesthetic look is not deprived of his bonafide reward by others applying it to their goods.[1]
  1. Geographical Indications: The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 which protects rights to geographical indications defines the same as “an indication which identifies such goods as agricultural goods, natural goods or manufactured goods as originating, or manufactured in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of such goods is essentially attributable to its geographical origin and in case where such goods are manufactured goods one of the activities of either the production or of processing or preparation of the goods concerned takes place in such territory, region or locality, as the case may be.” In simple words, geographical indications mean any natural, agricultural or manufactured goods which has a special reputation and originates from a specific territory. Registration of a geographical indication is not compulsory. However, registration provides better legal protection to facilitate an action for infringement.

Nevertheless, unlike real property, intellectual property rights cannot be held for an unlimited period. Each type of intellectual property is awarded protection under the law only for a specified period. The validity of each type of intellectual property in India is set out in the table below:

S. No Type of Intellectual Property Period of Validity Renewability
1. Patents 20 years from the date of filing of an application N.A


2. Trademarks 10 years from the date of filing of an application Renewable every ten years for an indefinite time
3. Copyrights (original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works) The lifetime of author and 60 years thereafter N.A
4. Copyrights (cinematograph films, sound recordings, photographs, posthumous publications, anonymous and pseudonymous publications, works of government and works of international organizations) 60 years from the date of publication N.A
5. Industrial Designs 10 years from the date of filing of an application Renewable for an additional period of 5 years
6. Geographical Indications 10 years Renewable every ten years for an indefinite time

The various protection mentioned above are only within the territory of India and not for worldwide protection.

Hope this article has provided a brief and succinct overview of IPR in India.

[1] FAQ section of India.nic.in


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *