Guardians of Creativity: Intellectual Property Rights

Published On: 21st February, 2024

Authored By: Soumya Srijan
College of Vocational Studies, Delhi University


Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) refer to the legal protections given to a creator of intellectual property which includes inventions, literary works, designs, symbols, names, and images used in commerce. The major purpose of granting IPRs is to encourage innovations, and creativity by providing the creators with exclusive rights to their creations also allowing them to benefit financially from their work and fostering a competitive and dynamic environment. IPRs play a very crucial role in the development of an economy as they work as a catalyst for more and more innovations, investments, and the development of new technologies. There are several types of intellectual property rights each designed to protect a specific type of creation.  They are essential for providing a vibrant and competitive edge to the economy by protecting the interests of the creators and the innovators.


The history of Intellectual Property Rights(IPR) can be traced back to the ancient civilizations where the efforts of the creators and inventors were recognized and they were given certain privileges. However, the formalization and codification of such recognition have evolved as a result of catering to the needs of the ever-dynamic environment. The concept of protection can be found in ancient Greece and Rome where the authors and the inventors were granted exclusive rights to their works. In medieval Europe, the crown granted exclusive privileges to certain tradesmen and artisans through royal charters. With the introduction of the printing press the need for more stringent copyright protections. It is often believed that the Statute of Anne,1710 was the first copyright law. The Statute of Monopolies,1624 marked a crucial development in patent laws. The 20th century has seen a significant development in the field of IPRs. In 1967, the World Intellectual Property Organization was set up with the motive of harmonizing and administering international intellectual property treaties.


Patents are a form of intellectual property rights that grant its inventor exclusive right to use, make, and sell their invention for a given stipulated period. It serves as a reward for the innovation and as an encouragement to disclose their creation in public by giving legal protection. The journey of development of patents has been pretty dynamic. The formalization of patent laws began during the colonial periods. Further, such patent laws were reformed to align with the interests of the nation. The legal framework of patents in India is governed by the Patents Act. Notably, the Patents (Amendment) Act of 2005 aligned India with the TRIPS Agreement, allowing product patents across all technological fields. To be eligible to get a patent the innovation must be novel and it must involve an inventive edge. India is also a member of agreements like the Patent Cooperation Treaty(PCT) and collaborates with international bodies to create a better administration and examination process regarding patents. When we dive deeper into the history one can trace that the first formal patent law was in 1856 to emphasize the economic development during the colonial rule. Further 1970 Patents Act reflected the post-independence policies which were at that point of time confined to specific categories of product patenting. The amendment made in 2005 in the Patents Act aligned it with international standards.


Trademarks are distinctive symbols, logos, names, phrases, or any combination of these that are used to identify and distinguish the goods or services of one entity from those of others. The history of trademarks can be traced back to as early as ancient times when artisans and traders used unique marks to identify their products. However, the formalization and legal protection started during the British colonial period. The Trade Marks Act of 1940 marked a stepping stone in this direction. Post-independence, further developments were made in the law with the enactment of the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act in 1958. The Act was further amended in 1999 and was implemented as the Trade Marks Act, 1999 which made the Act more aligned with the global standards. In the modern landscape, trademarks are an invaluable asset that contributes highly to brand recognition, customer loyalty, and market competitiveness. India has also embraced the Madrid Protocol, which simplifies the process of fetching an international registration of patents. The government has since implemented several initiatives to streamline and digitize the trademark registration process. With a rich history and commitment to international standards, the trademark system of India continues to adapt to the dynamic and competitive marketplace providing a robust mechanism for brand protection.


Copyright is a form of intellectual property that grants exclusive rights to the creators of original works, allowing them to control the use and distribution of their creations. The copyright laws in India have been protecting numerous works of literature, art, music, and drama domains. The history of copyrights in India can traced back to the ancient cultural practices till the modern legal framework. The formal recognition of copyrights began with the enactment of the Copyrights Act in 1847. The subsequent Acts being introduced in introduced in 1914 and 1957 so as the cater to the needs of those times. The Copyright Act of 1957, the primary legislation governing copyrights in India, has undergone amendments to align with contemporary global standards.

   The duration of copyright protection varies in different types of work. For the literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work, the duration for which the copyright lasts would be the lifetime of the author plus 60 years. For the aforesaid duration, the author gets the exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, perform, and adapt their works. As the era of digitization has begun the landscape of challenges and opportunities has changed significantly for the copyright holder. India has also been a party to international agreements like the Berne Convention and the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS), aligning its copyright laws with global standards. Emerging trends include increased awareness of copyright issues, the development of licensing models for digital content, and the role of artificial intelligence in creating and using copyrighted material.


Trade secrets and confidential information are integral aspects of intellectual property that play a very crucial role in the success and competitiveness of businesses. In India, the protection of such trade secrets and confidential information is a major part of Intellectual Property Rights. Whenever a trade is being carried out it encompasses a broad range of confidential information like formulas, methods, designs, patterns, etc. Such information is kept confidential and is not to be disclosed to the public. However, in India, there is no specific statute that protects the trade secrets. The much-needed protection is provided by contractual obligations, common laws, and equitable doctrines. India has an aligning approach towards the international standards of protection and preservation of trade secrets it is a part of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, which does recognize the importance of undisclosed information. As businesses have to navigate the challenges of the new digital era daily there does exist a need for effective protection of the trade secrets that encompass all the dimensions like legal, technological, and organizational.


One of the persistent challenges in India regarding Intellectual Property Rights is the “ENFORCEMENT AND PIRACY“, issues of piracy and unauthorized use remain very prevalent in the modern scenario, especially in the entertainment sector. Strengthening the enforcement mechanism to deter infringement is crucial. Promoting awareness about intellectual property rights is still a challenge India as a country has to meet as a lot of exceptional creations might get undervalued due to such unawareness. Also, the government should keep on ensuring the quality of patents is maintained to strike a balance between quality and quantity. The Indian Patents Office faces a major backlog of patent applications, leading to delays in granting patents. Such backlogs hinder the timely protection of innovations and the ability of inventors to realize the full potential of intellectual property.

  With an advancement in technology, emerging fields of AI, blockchain, and biotechnology pose a major threat to the traditional intellectual property framework. As the need for environmental protection rises, there is a growing emphasis on green technology and sustainable innovation. Future trends may involve incentivizing and protecting intellectual property in the context of eco-friendly technologies and practices


In conclusion, the landscape of intellectual Property Rights in India reflects a dynamic interplay between historical evolution, contemporary challenges, and future aspirations. India has very successfully positioned itself as a global player in innovation and technology, the future trends in IPRs point towards adapting to major dynamic adversities like AI, sustainable technology, globalization, etc. In the end, the economy has to develop a fostering culture that values and protects Intellectual Property is crucial for realizing the full potential of innovation and creativity in a country and India has successfully been able to navigate itself through such complexities.





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