What is Intellectual Property Right (IPR)?
Dr Dipak Nath
Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. There are many types of intellectual property, and some countries recognize more than others. The most well known types are copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets. Early precursors to some types of intellectual property existed in societies such as Ancient Rome, but the modern concept of intellectual property developed in England in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The term “intellectual property” began to be used in the 19th century, though it was not until the late 20th century that intellectual property became commonplace in the majority of the world’s legal systems.
The main purpose of intellectual property law is to encourage the creation of a wide variety of intellectual goods. To achieve this, the law gives people and businesses property rights to the information and intellectual goods they create, usually for a limited period of time. This gives economic incentive for their creation, because it allows people to profit from the information and intellectual goods they create. These economic incentives are expected to stimulate innovation and contribute to the technological progress of countries, which depends on the extent of protection granted to innovators.
Intellectual property rights include patents, copyright, industrial design rights, trademarks, plant variety rights, trade dress, geographical indications and in some jurisdictions trade secrets.
Patents- A patent is a form of right granted by the government to an inventor or their successor-in-title, giving the owner the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering to sell, and importing an invention for a limited period of time, in exchange for the public disclosure of the invention.
An invention is a solution to a specific technological problem, which may be a product or a process and generally has to fulfil three main requirements: it has to be new, not obvious and there needs to be an industrial applicability. To enrich the body of knowledge and stimulate innovation, it is an obligation for patent owners to disclose valuable information about their inventions to the public.
Copyright- A copyright gives the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time. Copyright may apply to a wide range of creative, intellectual, or artistic forms, or “works”. Copyright does not cover ideas and information themselves, only the form or manner in which they are expressed.
Industrial design rights- An industrial design right (sometimes called “design right” or design patent) protects the visual design of objects that are not purely utilitarian. An industrial design consists of the creation of a shape, configuration or composition of pattern or color, or combination of pattern and color in three-dimensional form containing aesthetic value.
An industrial design can be a two- or three-dimensional pattern used to produce a product, industrial commodity or handicraft. Generally speaking, it is what makes a product look appealing, and as such, it increases the commercial value of goods.
Plant variety rights- Plant breeders’ rights or plant variety rights are the rights to commercially use a new variety of a plant. The variety must amongst others be novel and distinct and for registration the evaluation of propagating material of the variety is considered.
Trademarks- A trademark is a recognizable sign, design or expression which distinguishes products or services of a particular trader from similar products or services of other traders.
Trade dress- Trade dress is a legal term of art that generally refers to characteristics of the visual and aesthetic appearance of a product or its packaging (or even the design of a building) that signify the source of the product to consumers.
Trade secrets- A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable, by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors and customers. There is no formal government protection granted; each business must take measures to guard its own trade secrets (e.g., Formula of its soft drinks is a trade secret for Coca-Cola). ...to be continued
(The writer is Deputy Director of Extension Education, Central Agricultural University, Imphal, Manipur)