For the ones who are not accustomed with IPR or Intellectual Property Rights, it may seem as some complex term that has no function in everyday life. However, a brief understanding of this concept will clarify that IPRs are important instruments for anyone with innovative ideas and entrepreneurial mindset.
Understanding from the scratch:
Intellectual property refers to any original creation of the human intellect. The creation may be technical, artistic or scientific creation. So when we say ‘Intellectual property rights (IPR)’ it refers to the legal rights given to the inventor or creator to protect his/her invention or creation for a certain period of time. These are territorial rights that confer an exclusive right to the inventor or creator (or to his/her assignee) to fully utilize his/her intellectual property for a given period of time.
The roots of procedures related to IPR have been first seen in Europe. It was in 14th century that the trends of awarding patents began. Speaking of India, the patent laws came up much later when first Law based on British patent systems was established in 1856. As awareness about IP rights increased, India witnessed top IPR firms offering assistance to big corporate firms and budding entrepreneurs in protecting their valuable ideas.
Let’s take a look at the types of Intellectual Property Rights to get a better idea:
Patents are one of the intellectual property rights that come to people’s minds when they think of securing their ideas. A patent is a legal instrument that is used to prevent an invention from being created, sold, or used by another party without permission. An owner of a patent can commercialize his/her patent or even grant a license of the invention to any third party under mutually agreed conditions.
Patents fall under different categories:
· Utility patent: A utility patent protects the creation of a new or improved product, process or machine that has a specific purpose.
· Design patent: A design patent protects the ornamental design of an item that has a specific purpose. It provides legal protection to the unique visual qualities of a manufactured item. It is granted if the product has either or both distinct configuration or surface ornamentation.
· Plant patent: A plant patent protects new kinds of plants produced by cuttings or other nonsexual means.
Most of us are familiar with trademarks but may not understand their purpose. So, often people confuse it with logo or company name. Trademark is actually a distinctive text, sign, symbol or name which allows consumers to easily identify goods or services of a particular company. A mark being used by a company needs to be registered as a trademark to enjoy the benefits of this IPR. Trademarks help consumers to distinguish between different entities offering same type of products. It is important to note that unlike patents, a trademark can be used to secure a set or class of products or services, as opposed to just one product or process in case of patents.
Ever heard someone saying that they have a ‘copyright’ on so and so book and no one can copy their ideas? Well, that’s what copyright does. Copyright provides exclusive right to sell, publish, and/or reproduce any literary, musical, artistic, dramatic, or architectural work. So, technically copyright protects not ideas but ‘expression of ideas’ and covers only ‘tangible’ forms of creations and original work. Hence, you can’t copyright the idea of clicking a photograph of a sunset but can protect the ‘tangible’ photo once you have clicked it.
4) Trade Secret
The name itself hints to something being kept hidden. Trade secrets are actually ‘secrets of a business.’ But these are not any secrets. They include strategies, proprietary systems, formulas, or other confidential information that needs t e protected from unauthorized commercial use by others. Interestingly, trade secrets have an infinite life and they don't need to be renewed.
IPRs are useful for all sectors of industry-whether they are small, medium or large enterprises. Awareness of these rights will not only help to secure one’s intellectual property but will also help in building a diverse intangible assets portfolio.