Intellectual property (IP) is vital for driving progress and inspiring innovation. It includes various rights such as patents, copyrights, geographical indications, trademarks, industrial designs, and trade secrets. These intellectual property rights (IPR) provide legal safeguards for a wide array of inventions and creative works. In today’s rapidly evolving technological, scientific, and medical landscapes, intellectual property holds unprecedented importance.

Examining the legal structures that govern IPRs, particular attention is given to international agreements like the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Administered by the World Trade Organization, the TRIPS agreement establishes baseline standards for IPR protection and enforcement, promoting a more standardized global system.

Property includes both physical and non-physical assets, owned by individuals, governments, or organizations. Various rights, such as ownership, sale, transfer, and lease, can be exercised over property. Intellectual property, however, is non-physical and pertains to creations of the mind, like inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, and commercial symbols.

There are numerous laws protecting intellectual property, including those related to patents, copyrights, and trademarks. The protection and promotion of intellectual property serve several important functions.

WIPO Convention, 1967

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) was founded on July 14, 1967, and is based in Geneva, Switzerland. As one of the oldest entities in the realm of intellectual property protection, it is also one of the 15 specialized agencies of the United Nations, boasting 193 member countries.

WIPO’s primary roles include promoting intellectual property awareness and protection, harmonizing national laws to enhance global IP protection, negotiating international IP agreements, providing legal and technical IP assistance, and executing other essential activities.

WIPO and India

India has acceded to several WIPO treaties, aimed at simplifying trademark and industrial design searches and helping brand owners and designers protect their creations. Since becoming a WIPO member in 1975, India has joined several WIPO treaties such as the Paris Convention, Berne Convention, Patent Cooperation Treaty, Phonograms Convention, Nairobi Treaty, Nice Agreement, and Vienna Agreement.

Notably, India was the first nation to ratify the Marrakesh VIP Treaty, a copyright treaty adopted in Morocco in 2013. India has also been implementing TRIPS Agreement provisions since 2005, significantly impacting its economy, especially the pharmaceutical sector.

TRIPS Agreement of World Trade

The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is a multilateral accord under the World Trade Organization framework, effective from January 1, 1995. It sets minimum standards for IPR protection and enforcement among member countries, ensuring global consistency and safeguarding intellectual property rights.

As a signatory to the TRIPS Agreement, India has been adhering to its provisions since 2005, which has notably influenced its economy, particularly in pharmaceuticals. The agreement has enhanced IPR protection and attracted more investment in research and development by multinational corporations in India.

The TRIPS Agreement covers three main areas: standards, enforcement, and dispute resolution. It specifies standards for the subject matter, rights, exceptions, and minimum protection duration. It also provides enforcement rules, including civil and administrative procedures, remedies, provisional measures, border controls, and criminal proceedings. Disputes arising under the TRIPS Agreement are resolved through WTO’s dispute settlement processes.

Types of Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual property rights can be broadly categorized into three types:

  1. Copyright: Protects original works of literature, art, music, and drama.
  2. Trademark: Safeguards unique signs, symbols, names, or designs that distinguish goods or services.
  3. Patent: Grants inventors exclusive rights to their new inventions, allowing them to prevent others from making, using, or selling the inventions.

Each of these rights is essential for safeguarding various forms of intellectual creations and fostering innovation and creativity.


The term ‘copyright’ is derived from the words ‘copy’ and ‘right,’ referring to the exclusive right to reproduce a work, held by its creator or an authorized representative. In India, copyright is governed by the Copyright Act, specifically Section 13, which provides protection to various creative works including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works, cinematograph films, and sound recordings.

Copyright encompasses a set of exclusive rights as outlined in Section 14 of the Act. Only the copyright owner or an authorized individual can exercise these rights, which include adapting, reproducing, publishing, translating, and communicating the work to the public.

Nature of Copyright:

  • Automatic: Copyright is an inherent right granted automatically upon the creation and recording of an eligible work.
  • Originality: The work must be original, showcasing the creator’s effort, even if it is not entirely new.
  • Exclusions: Copyright protects the expression of ideas, not the ideas or concepts themselves, excluding methods of operation and mathematical concepts from protection.

Term of Copyright

Chapter V (Sections 22 to 29) of the Copyright Act outlines the duration of copyright protection in India. For original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, copyright protection extends to 60 years beyond the author’s lifetime. In cases involving multiple authors, the protection lasts for 60 years following the death of the last surviving author.

For cinematograph films, sound recordings, photographs, posthumous publications, anonymous and pseudonymous works, government publications, and works of international organizations, copyright protection is granted for 60 years from the year of publication. Unpublished cinematograph films, photographs, and computer programs are protected for 60 years from the year of creation.

Broadcast reproduction rights are valid for 25 years from the year of the broadcast, while performers’ rights last for 50 years from the year of the performance.

Registration of Copyright

Chapter X (Sections 44 to 50A) of the Copyright Act delineates the registration process in India.

Examination: Upon submission, the application is assigned a diary number, followed by a mandatory 30-day waiting period to allow for any objections. If objections are raised, the process may extend by an additional month to enable the Registrar of Copyrights to hear both parties. After resolving ownership disputes or dismissing objections, the application undergoes scrutiny. The applicant is given 30 days to rectify any discrepancies identified.

Registration: Once the required documents are submitted and the Copyright Registrar is satisfied with the completeness and accuracy of the application, the copyright details are entered into the register, and a Certificate of Registration is issued. The registration process is concluded when the applicant receives a copy of the register entries.


Trademark laws in India are governed by the Trademark Act. According to Section 2(zb) of the Act, a “Trademark” (TM) is a mark that can be graphically represented and distinguishes the goods or services of one person from those of others. This includes shapes, packaging, color combinations, devices, brands, headings, labels, tickets, names, signatures, words, letters, and numerals. The primary criterion for a trademark is its ability to differentiate goods or services.

Types of Trademarks

  1. Word Marks: These include words, letters, or numerals, granting exclusive rights to the specific word, letter, or number, without claiming visual representation rights.
  2. Device Marks: These represent logos, labels, or designs in image format, which may also incorporate words.
  3. Service Marks: These distinguish services rather than goods provided by a person or company.
  4. Collective Marks: Used by a group of companies, these marks can be protected collectively by the group, which may be an association, public institution, or cooperative.
  5. Certification Marks: Indicating that products have met specified quality standards, these marks assure consumers that manufacturers have undergone quality audits.
  6. Well-known Marks: Widely recognized by a significant portion of the population, these marks achieve well-known status when recognized by actual or potential customers, distributors, and business service providers.

Trademark Registration Process

  1. Filing an application: The initial step is to file a registration application, which can be done online via the official IP India website or physically at the Trademark Registry Office. The application must include all required documents and complete trademark details.
  2. Examination Process: The Registrar examines the application and provides a written report within 30 days, indicating whether the application is accepted, rejected, or conditional. The applicant has 30 days to address any objections. Failure to respond within this timeframe results in application abandonment.
  3. Post-Examination Procedures: If the response is unsatisfactory, a hearing may be conducted. If the examiner is satisfied, the mark is accepted and forwarded for publication in the Trademark Journal. If objections persist, the application may be refused.
  4. Publication of the Trademark Application: Accepted applications are published in the Trademark Journal for 4 months, allowing third parties to review and possibly oppose the application.
  5. Notice of Opposition: Any aggrieved party can file a notice of opposition using Form TM-O within 4 months of publication, halting the registration process. The applicant must then navigate legal procedures, potentially including filing a counter-statement, submitting evidence, and attending hearings.
  6. Registration: The final step involves obtaining the certificate of registration. After completing all necessary legal procedures and clearing any opposition, the applicant receives the certificate, finalizing the trademark registration.

Patent Law Overview

Patent law encompasses the granting of rights for new inventions, including processes, products, or manufactured articles that meet the criteria of novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability. Established in 1972, the Patent Office is headquartered in Calcutta, with branches in New Delhi, Chennai, and Mumbai.

Patentable and Non-Patentable Inventions

Patentable Inventions

Section 2(j)6 defines a patentable invention as “a new product or process involving an inventive step and capable of industrial application.” An invention must demonstrate absolute novelty, meaning it has not been known to the people around the world. The following conditions must be met for an invention to be patentable:

  1. Novelty: The invention must be new and not disclosed to the public through any publication.
  2. Usefulness: The invention must be beneficial to mankind. A new and non-obvious invention that lacks utility will not be granted a patent.
  3. Non-obviousness: The invention must not be obvious to a person skilled in the relevant art. It should involve a special mental skill to reach the inventive step.
  4. Non-Patentable Inventions

Sections 3 and 47 of the Patent Act outline exclusions for non-patentable inventions. These include:

  • Frivolous inventions and those contrary to natural laws.
  • Inventions against public morality.
  • Discoveries of existing natural phenomena.
  1. Rights of Patentee (Section 48)

A patentee is entitled to the following rights:

  1. Right to Exploit the Patent: Exclusive rights to use, make, import, or sell the patented product or process in India.
  2. Right to Grant License: The ability to grant licenses, transfer rights, or enter into arrangements for consideration. Assignments or licenses must be in writing and registered with the Controller of Patents.
  3. Right to Surrender: The right to surrender the patent at any time with proper notice.
  4. Right to Sue for Infringement: The ability to sue for patent infringement in a district court with jurisdiction.
  5. Right to Use and Enjoy Patent: Exclusive rights to utilize, convey, or offer the patented substance or process in India.

Suggestions for Improvement

To enhance the protection of intellectual property, the following suggestions are proposed:

  1. Update Legal Frameworks: Continuously improve legal frameworks to ensure robust IP rights protection, including streamlined registration and enforcement mechanisms.
  2. Advanced Detection Technology: Develop technology and tools to detect and prevent online piracy, counterfeiting, and other IP infringements.
  3. Promote Licensing and Joint Ventures: Encourage licensing agreements, joint ventures, and technology transfer mechanisms that benefit all parties involved.
  4. Provide Innovation Incentives: Offer grants, tax incentives, and funding for research and development to foster innovation.
  5. Efficient Dispute Resolution: Establish specialized intellectual property courts and accessible dispute resolution mechanisms to address IP-related issues effectively.


In Anil Kapoor Film Company vs. T-Series (2012) Anil Kapoor’s production company sued T-Series, alleging that the song “Mere Bina Tu” from the film “Phata Poster Nikhla Hero” (2013) was a copy of “Dil Mera Muft Ka” from their movie “Agent Vinod” (2012). The case was eventually settled out of court, with T-Series agreeing to pay ₹50 lakh (5 million INR) as compensation.

In 3 Idiots (2009) vs. Five Point Someone (2004) The film “3 Idiots” was accused of being an unauthorized adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s novel “Five Point Someone.” Bhagat asserted that he was not given proper credit for the story, leading to substantial media coverage. The producers of the film, however, maintained that it was only loosely based on the book. Consequently, no legal action was initiated.

In this significant trademark infringement case, The Coca-Cola Company (plaintiff) sued Bisleri International Pvt. Ltd (defendant), an Indian brand known for bottled water. In September 1993, Bisleri sold Coca-Cola the rights to the soft drink MAAZA. In March 2008, Coca-Cola filed a trademark application for “MAAZA” in Turkey. In September 2008, Bisleri sent a legal notice to Coca-Cola, revoking the licensing agreement and stating its intention to use the trademark in India. Bisleri engaged in the manufacture, sale, and export of MAAZA-branded products.
Court Decision
The court issued a temporary injunction against Bisleri, finding that Coca-Cola had a prima facie case and a favourable balance of conveniences. The revocation of the trademark was deemed invalid, and Coca-Cola was granted full trademark rights for MAAZA. Bisleri was held liable for trademark infringement.

In Novartis vs. Cipla, 2015- Novartis sued Cipla for patent infringement of Onbrez, a drug for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cipla launched a generic version, challenging Novartis’s patents and seeking revocation, citing public health crises. The Delhi High Court granted Novartis a temporary injunction against Cipla’s generic sales, noting strong patent validity and insufficient evidence of drug shortages claimed by Cipla. Appeals in 2017 reaffirmed the injunction, addressing import sufficiency for domestic demand.


This article provides a comprehensive exploration of intellectual property rights (IPR), emphasizing their critical role in a rapidly advancing landscape of technology, science, and medicine. The importance of proper registration cannot be overstated in maximizing the benefits of IPR. These rights serve as legal claims to the products of creative thinking, crucially fostering innovation and supporting innovators across all phases of business growth, competitive endeavours, and expansion efforts. Moreover, the registration and enforcement of IP rights empower consumers by ensuring informed choices concerning the quality, safety, and reliability of their purchases.


  1. Consider a scenario where a sports team launches a company to market its exclusive clothing line. What types of intellectual property can the team employ to establish that the clothing is uniquely theirs?

The sports team can use a trademark to indicate that the clothes are exclusively their own.

  1. If a company creates a new technology that enhances its main product, what types of intellectual property can they employ to prevent others from copying their invention?

They can use patents to prevent others from copying their invention.

  1. Who are the responsible bodies for administering intellectual property rights (IPRs) in the country?

The Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trademarks, under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, oversees patents, designs, trademarks, and geographical indications. Copyrights are managed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology is tasked with implementing the Act on Layout Design of Integrated Circuits.

  1. What are the Legislations concerning intellectual property rights (IPRs) in India?
  • Patents: Governed by the Patents Act, 1970, amended in 1999 and 2002, with the amended provisions effective from May 20, 2003.
  • Designs: Covered by the Design Act, 2000, which supersedes the earlier Designs Act, 1911.
  • Trademarks: Regulated under the Trademarks Act, 1999, replacing the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958, effective from September 15, 2003.
  • Copyrights: Managed by the Copyright Act, 1957, amended in 1983, 1984, 1992, 1994, and 1999, along with the Copyright Rules, 1958.
  • Layout Design of Integrated Circuits: Governed by the Semiconductor Integrated Circuit Layout Design Act, 2000 (enforcement pending).
  • Protection of Undisclosed Information: Generally addressed under the Contract Act, 1872.
  • Geographical Indications: Administered by the Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.

Author: Riddhi Garg 

Student at College: Kurukshetra University 


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