Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) encompass legal safeguards that protect the tangible expression of ideas, thereby serving as valuable assets of knowledge.
NEED FOR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
Over time, we have witnessed a shift to the industrial age where products served as the centrepiece of the economy. Currently, we find ourselves in the information age, where intellectual content and ideas hold greater importance. Consequently, the protection of these intellectual assets, ideas, and innovations becomes increasingly crucial, necessitating the existence of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).
The protection provided by IPR laws extends beyond artistic works such as movies, songs, and other forms of creative expression. Even well-established companies like Burger King, Coca-Cola, and Flipkart are considered intellectual property companies, encompassing a wide range of IP rights including patent, design, trademark and copyright etc. In essence, intellectual property rights can be likened to “plate tectonics” due to their significant influence.
The scope of IPR is not limited to specific fields like electronics, pharmaceuticals, biology, or genetics; it extends to software, business, finance, innovation, and even new patentable algorithms. These laws prevent organizations or individuals from misusing and copying ideas through patent, design, copyright and trademark etc.
IPR LAW IN INDIA
In India, the governing body for IPR laws is “The Controller General of Patent, Designs and Trademarks.” Being a signatory to the Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) agreement, India is required to align its statutes, enforcement provisions, and dispute resolution procedures to ensure the protection of intellectual rights. The country has well-established statutory, administrative, and judicial frameworks in place to safeguard intellectual property rights. Although there is no explicit statute specifically protecting trade secrets and know-how, they receive protection under common law, with courts recognizing their importance and violation of confidentiality .
The following are some of the Intellectual Property Rights protected by law :
Trademark: Trademarks are distinctive signs that can take the form of symbols, logos, words, phrases, names, sounds, designs, or pictures representing the brand value or goodwill associated with a firm or its products and services. A company’s trademark is a highly valuable asset, as it protects its distinguishing symbol or indicator. The Trademark Act of 1999 in India establishes rules and regulations for trademark registration, regulation, and protection. Recently, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) revised the trademark registration laws in India.
Patent: A patent is a legal right or privilege that grants a person a monopoly over their innovation. It covers a broad range of patentability, including compositions of matter. Once a product or process is patented, it cannot be commercially produced, distributed, used, or sold without the patent owner’s permission. India follows a first-come, first-serve basis for patent rights, allowing either the designer, assignee, or their legal representative to file for a patent.
Design: Designs are a vital aspect of intellectual property rights, offering protection to the visual appearance and ornamental features of a product. They encompass elements such as shape, configuration, pattern, ornamentation, and color that are visually perceived. Design protection is crucial for businesses as it safeguards their unique and visually appealing product designs, contributing to brand recognition and market competitiveness. In India, the Designs Act, 2000 governs design protection, allowing for registration and exclusive rights for industrial designs. Recent amendments have streamlined the design registration process, making it more efficient. Design protection fosters innovation, creativity, and investment in distinctive designs, driving industry growth.
Copyright: Copyright protection extends to artistic and literary works, including books, paintings, motion pictures, songs, and even computer software. India enacted the Copyright Act in 1957 and has subsequently amended it to align with TRIPs standards. India actively participates in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
TECHNOLOGICAL CHALLENGES AND THREATS
The emergence of new technologies and advancements in the digital realm have introduced new obstacles to intellectual property. Ensuring digital enforcement of these rights has become a pressing concern. Protecting intangible assets in a globalized environment has become increasingly challenging, with organizations facing the common threat of imitation and exploitation of their brand features, resulting in consumer confusion. The following are some serious threats to intellectual property :
3D Printing: Advancements in technology and improvements in material quality have facilitated the mass production of printed objects, leading to potential IP infringement. Existing legislation generally addresses these violations, although some amendments or modifications may be required, particularly in the context of nanotechnology or 3D printing.
Artificial Intelligence: AI presents both challenges and opportunities for IP protection. While AI can be used to protect digital content, it can also be utilized to imitate layouts, logos, designs, and other elements, posing a threat to IP rights. Policing crimes such as audio and video impersonation, cyber-squatting, typo-squatting, and unauthorized live streaming of copyright-protected digital content necessitate changes in legislation and an updated legal environment capable of addressing AI-related concerns.
Spatial Computing: Spatial computing is still in its early stages, lacking explicit anti-piracy measures and protection against infringement. The use of augmented reality (AR) can lead to manipulation of patented products, layouts, copyrights, and trademarks. Introducing a certification stamp for authentic information and establishing a digital system can help address the misuse of spatial computing.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS AND CONTEMPORARY ISSUES
The benefits of technology in the modernization and adoption of the digital age are undeniable. However, along with these advancements, society has faced various issues, including machine learning, piracy, data protection, cybercrime, and others. Many of these issues revolve around the safeguarding of intellectual property rights. Some of the contemporary concerns include :
- Lack of awareness and knowledge about intellectual property rights
- Insufficient development of deep learning, machine learning, and technical skills
- Inadequate implementation of intellectual property legislation
- Absence of an effective review committee on IPR
- Limited technical insight and application expertise
These contemporary issues encompass copyright infringements, duplicate features, stolen content, plagiarism, piracy, trademark infringements, and other modern challenges. Intellectual property rights hold the potential to foster growth, innovation, invention, and new startups, making it imperative to address these challenges. To tackle these problems, many democratic countries have taken steps to enhance and reorganize their intellectual property administration. Governments have initiated various measures to strengthen the administrative system, such as establishing intellectual property cells, providing information on IPR, and participating in international treaties and conventions affecting IPR. Digitization projects and the allocation of resources to clear patent and trademark application backlogs have been undertaken, while facilitators support startups in seeking IP protection and filing patent applications.
Conclusion: Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) play a significant role in both social and business contexts. With the proliferation of patent, trademark, and copyright-related activities, the importance of IPR has grown in the digital era. Advancements in technologies like AI and spatial computing have given rise to new challenges that require legislative measures and appropriate safeguards. In this context, the protection of IP assets becomes crucial for fostering innovation and technological development.
- Philip Ashok Alex ‘Upcoming Challenges in IPR and Way Forward’ Finology blog available at: https://blog.finology.in/Legal-news/Upcoming-Challenges-in-IPR last visited (10th June 2023)
- Vasundhara Rastogi and Naina Bharadwaj ‘Intellectual Property Right: Laws and Procedure for Registration’ India Briefing available at: https://www.india-briefing.com/news/intellectual-property-rights-india-laws-procedures-registration-14312.html/ last visited (11th June 2023).
- ‘Future Impact of Emerging Technologies on IP protection and enforcement- EUIPO updates its Tech Watch Discussion Paper’ CMS Law-Now available at: https://cms-lawnow.com/en/ealerts/2023/03/future-impact-of-emerging-technologies-on-ip-protection-and-enforcement-euipo-updates-its-tech-watch-discussion-paper last visited (11th June 2023)
- Dr Arti ‘Contemporary Issues of Intellectual Property Rights in the Digital Era’ Indian Journal of Law, Polity and Administration available at: file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/Dr.Arti%20(1).pdf last visited (12th June 2023).
Disclaimer: The present article intends to provide general guidance on the subject, and you can also consult us in your specific case.