Intellectual property rights (IPR) – some facts


In knowledge based global economy, corporate companies are realizing the benefits of guarding Intellectual property (IP). Mediums of communication are increasing and people are facing problems in identifying the actual owner of a particular idea or thought. The situation has become complex with the widespread use of the internet in almost every area of life.

With the Internet being used for unlimited applications like online education, tele-medicine and voice communication, software companies and educational institutions are finding it difficult to protect their interests. Many expensive software programs developed after spending millions and involving several man hours are available for free download on various sites, leading to irreparable commercial damages. There are many search engines which link to sites where one can access even confidential information or data. Thus, any unauthorized person can transmit information without getting permission from the actual owner, causing monetary losses. Therefore, it becomes imperative for companies or individuals to protect their research work and developed hardware and software from getting imitated or pirated by others.

The property rights began as early as 15th century, which has now taken a global shape in the form of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) agreements.

Companies who’ve protected their intellectual property today rule world commerce. Microsoft is built entirely on the strength of its software programs that are protected through copyrights. Protection of IPR has becomes so important that companies carry out intellectual property audits to identify intellectual wealth and form special department to manage it.

Thus, products (e.g. DVDs) are protected by patents, software (e.g. windows) by copyright, goodwill (e.g. the logo of Mercedes Benz) by trademark, appearance (design of a Rolex watch) by designs and spatial arrangements of components on a microchip (Pentium iv) by semi-conductor layout designs.

Types of IPR:

1. Trademark: A trademark can be a logo, symbol, word, phrase, jingle, picture, sound or even smell or a combination of all these which is used to distinguish one work/service from another. Trademark provides a distinct identity to a good/service and protects it from being copied.

2. Trade secrets: Trade secret protection helps protect the secrets of a product or work.

3. Patent: A patent is the right of an individual or of a company / organization to gain profit from a particular invention or unique manufacturing process. A patent is an intellectual property relating to scientific and technological inventions. It is granted by the government of the country to the applicant and gives the inventor the right for a limited period to prevent others from using that invention in any form without permission. Like any other form of property, a patent can be transacted purchased, sold or even mortgaged.

4. Copyright: It protects original literary works, i.e. books, novels, lyrics, songs, computer programs and alike, whenever these are created they become the property of the creator.

5. Design: A design is the presentation of a product resulting from features of color, size, shape, texture or materials of a product or packaging.

Against the backdrop of economic developments whereby trade negotiations are increasingly being governed by global concerns, there is an urgent need for a detailed study of Intellectual Property Laws.

There are several ways of protecting tangible assets; similarly, there are several tools to safe guard intangible properties say a book or a scientific invention or an industrial or agricultural creation or even a film or anything created originally by human resources.