In a world that is driven by innovation and is ever so dynamic in nature that protecting their Intellectual property (IP) is of utmost important for the businesses as well as individuals. Intellectual property (IP) are the inventions and the innovations which includes the literary and artistic works; designs work also the symbols, names and images used in commerce. The inventors and creators are provided with certain rights to protect their creations and inventions. These rights are known as Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Such rights add essential value to all types of products and encourage the inventors to innovate and create; these rights also foster an environment for creativity and innovativeness can foster.
This Blog will explore different aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) while throwing light on the importance of patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets.
Understanding Intellectual Property (IP):
Intellectual property (IP) includes a broad spectrum of intangible assets such as inventions, artistic works and brand identities.
Intellectual property (IP) in law is protected with the use of patents, copyrights and trademarks. This helps people earn recognition and financials benefits for their invention or creation. It is the duty of intellectual property system to strike a balance between the different groups like creators and consumers, businesses and its competitors.
The inventors as well as creators put in a lot of time, effort, money and energy in inventing or creating and to encourage them to keep doing so its necessary that they get fair return for their investment. These returns are provided to them by the intellectual property rights with further are categorized as patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, geographical indications and industrial designs.
Each category plays a significant and important role in preserving the rights of inventors and creators and protecting the Intellectual Property (IP) along with encouraging them to keep innovating.
Patents are one of the earliest recognized types of intellectual property. Patents allow inventors to get exclusive rights over their invention, in laymen terms it allows the inventor to decide who can use their product and who cannot. Patent generally has a time period of 20 years in which the inventor’s permission to use the product and once the period has lapsed the product is free to be used by anyone. In return for a product being patented the inventor has to release the product details in the patent documents
For a product to be eligible for patent it must have practical use, material solution to a problem or something new which is not in the existing technical tools and has an inventive touch to it. Also, the product should not fall under non- patentable subject matter. Discovery of natural substance, methods of medical treatment, mathematical and scientific methods are usually considered as non-patentable in many countries.
Patents are territorial i.e. protection is restricted to territory of the nation. Inventor must know the process in their territory and take the necessary step to get their invention patent. Further, patent can be challenged in court and if the eligibility of the product is not proved for the patent, then it will lose it right of protection in that area.
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) manages the PCT system, under the Patent Cooperation treaty an international system that allows inventor to seek protection in as many signatory states as the wish in a single application.
Trademarks are the signs capable of distinguishing the brand from one another and also allows consumers to rely on the sign and trademark for the genuinity. From letters to numbers, symbols, pictures and shape can be trademarked but the only requirement is that it must be distinctive and not generic. It should also not be similar or identical to a pre-existing trademark.
Trademark are not just limited to the identification of a product or good of an enterprise. There are also collective marks which are owned by an association and used by its members while, certification marks which show if a product or service is in level with certain standards.
Trademark is granted for a specific time limit,10 years in most countries. But the mark can be renewed as many times as the owners wishes too. Just like patents, trademarks are also territorial in nature.
WIPO offers Madrid system which allows the owner to obtain trademark protection in as many states (those who are part of the system) as wished in a single application.
Copyrights also known as author’s rights describe the rights of the creators in literary, scientific and artistic works. It ranges from books, movies, pictures to sculptors, computer databases, maps, among other things. Copyrights is applied on the creative expression and generally on the idea as a whole.
Copyrights include economic rights which allows the content creators to choose and control the distribution of their work. Generally, economic rights can be transferred and divided. While, there are moral rights too which include the right to recognized as the author of the work and that the work won’t be altered in any way which would damage author’s reputation. But, in most countries moral rights cannot be transferred or divided but the author can at time agree to waive it off.
The law also protects who were part of the creation but are not eligible for copyright protection. Such rights are known as neighboring or related rights. These are similar to copyrights but the time period is shorter than copyrights.
In the international law, it is of utmost importance that countries protect the copyrighted work throughout the life of the author as well as for 50 years after the author’s demise.
The Global Dimension of IPR:
The world is moving forward together and is interconnected. But, IP laws in most cases are different and territorial. While, globalization has allowed businesses and organizations to have reach worldwide and such different IP laws discourages the business to step forward and innovate as well as expand. Which is World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) was established. It directs a balanced and flourishing intellectual property environment at a global level. It encourages innovations and creations for a sustainable future. WIPO has several treaties, systems and agreements such as Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which facilitates harmony and protection in intellectual property at a global level. Also, there is Lisbon System established to make the registration of Geographical indication (GI tag) internationally. WIPO also holds seminars, webinars, training programs around the world to encourage innovation and help build human capacity in IP.
The level of progress and growth of humanity is well depended on the capability of innovation there. Progress requires the findings of new things better than the already existing ones. And this work of finding is done by inventors and creators. They use their intellect to invent, innovate and create. Their creation as we already established is known as Intellectual property (IP) and are protected with the help of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). IP rights have been rightly accepted by legal systems around the globe and are also safeguarded by Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.IP rights has established and fostered an environment where the innovators are benefitted fairly as well as the society also gains benefit from the invention.