Author: Tiya Khurana , a law student at VSLLS,VIPS-TC


In the contemporary landscape, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) have become indispensable, especially within the digital realm. This article concisely explores the essential elements of IPR within the legal framework, encompassing copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. Copyrights shield a diverse array of creative works, ranging from literature to art, while patents safeguard groundbreaking inventions. Trademarks, pivotal for branding, ensure distinctiveness in the bustling digital arena . in the vast expanse of the internet, a nuanced comprehension of how these elements are handled within the legal framework is paramount. This piece offers a brief yet comprehensive exploration of the mechanisms that underscore the protection of intellectual property in our contemporary, digitally-driven society.


Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), contemporary landscape, digital realm, legal framework, copyrights, patents, trademarks, trade secrets, creative works, inventions, branding, internet, protection, mechanisms.


Intellectual Property (IP) rights provide legal protection for creations like inventions, designs, trademarks, and artistic works, preserving human creativity and fostering innovation. Granting exclusive rights to creators incentivizes investment in new ideas, products, and technologies, contributing to economic and cultural growth.

IP has a historical evolution dating back centuries, with roots in ancient civilizations. Formal recognition began in the 17th century, shaping up with the Statute of Monopolies in England in 1624. Subsequently, copyright and trademark laws emerged, contributing to the establishment of a comprehensive IP framework. The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883) and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886) marked significant international efforts to harmonize IP protection.

In India, a rich tradition of creativity and innovation dates back to ancient times. Formal legal recognition of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) began during the British colonial era, with the enactment of the Indian Patents and Designs Act in 1911. Post-independence, India refined its IP framework, aligning it with global standards through legislative developments like the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act (1958), the Designs Act (2000), and the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act (1999). The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in 1995 marked India’s commitment to international IP standards.

IPR is integral to India’s growth, providing a legal framework to protect innovations, stimulate economic growth, and enhance global competitiveness. This system incentivizes inventors and creators while safeguarding traditional knowledge, contributing to cultural preservation. In essence, IPR in India is a cornerstone for fostering innovation, attracting investments, and balancing the interests of creators and communities.


The Convention establishing the World Intellectual Property Organisation (1967) gives the following list of the subject matter protected by intellectual property rights:

  1. trademarks, service marks, and commercial names and designations;
  2. inventions in all fields of human endeavor;
  3. industrial designs;
  4. protection against unfair competition; and
  5. and all other rights encompassing intellectual property 

framework encompasses rights ranging from the safeguarding of brand identities to the protection of groundbreaking inventions and extends to various forms of intellectual activity. Further explaining some of the pivotal ones below:

[I] Patents

In the realm of intellectual property, patents play a crucial role as catalysts for innovation. They grant inventors exclusive rights, motivating them to share groundbreaking ideas with the public while enjoying legal protection. The multifaceted landscape of patentable subject matter includes utility patents for inventive solutions, design patents for ornamental designs, and plant patents for novel plant varieties.

Guiding the intricacies of patenting in India is the Patents Act of 1970, a legislative cornerstone outlining the patent application process. This meticulous process involves submitting a comprehensive application, including detailed specifications and drawings, triggering a rigorous examination. Upon approval, patent holders gain exclusive rights, covering the making, using, selling, and distributing of their inventions for around 20 years. This temporal monopoly not only aids in recovering investments but also acts as a linchpin for sustained innovation.

Rooted in etymology, the Patents Act, 1970, takes its name from the Latin “patentem” and French “patente,” symbolizing an open letter. The stipulated 20-year tenure commences either from the application date or the international filing under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), emblematic of a legal framework fostering inventive endeavors within the Indian landscape.

Types of Patents:

  • Utility Patents: Protect inventions and discoveries.
  • Design Patents: Safeguard ornamental designs.
  • Plant Patents: Safeguarding original and unique plant varieties, prevalent in field of horticulture and agriculture

Types of Patent Applications:

  • Provisional Patent Application: Offers temporary protection and establishes an early filing date.
  • Divisional Patent Application: Splits a single patent application into multiple ones.
  • Additional Patent Application: Supplemental applications for the same invention.
  • Complete Patent Application: Comprehensive documentation for full examination.

Criteria for Patentability:

  • Novelty: The invention must not be done or shown in public before.
  • Inventive Step: Defined in Section 2(ja) of the Patents Act.
  • Industrial Application: As per Section 2(ac), the invention must be capable of use or being created in a sector.

Landmark Cases :

Bayer Corporation vs Union of India (2014) Bombay HC: Examined the compulsory licensing of the cancer medicine ‘Nexavar,’ highlighting the balance between patent rights and public interest.

Yahoo! Inc. v. Akash Arora &Anr(1999) Delhi HC: Addressed ‘Cyber Squatting’ involving unauthorized registration and use of internet domain names similar to registered trademarks and service marks, emphasizing the importance of distinctiveness and uniqueness.

[II] Copyrights

In the intricate tapestry of intellectual property, copyrights stand as guardians of creative expression, weaving a protective cocoon around the fruits of artistic labor. Governed by the Indian Copyright Act of 1957, this legal framework defines and safeguards the rights of creators, fostering a vibrant ecosystem of literary, artistic, and musical endeavors.

Definition and Scope of Copyrights – INDIAN COPYRIGHT ACT 1957

Enshrined within the Indian Copyright Act of 1957, the realm of copyrights encompasses a broad spectrum of creative works. Literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic creations, as well as cinematograph films and sound recordings, find sanctuary under this legislation. The act establishes a robust framework that delineates the rights of creators and the boundaries within which their works are protected.

International Conventions and Treaties on Copyright Protection

In an increasingly interconnected world, the Buenos Aires Convention on Literary and Artistic Copyright and the WIPO Copyright Treaty (1996) serve as bulwarks against the global tide of intellectual property infringement. These treaties harmonize international standards, providing a unified front for the protection of creative works on a global scale.

Types of Works Protected by Copyrights

The canvas of copyright protection extends over various forms of artistic expression, including literary, dramatic, and musical works, as well as artistic creations, cinematographic films, and sound recordings. Each category enjoys its unique set of protections, reinforcing the diverse nature of creative endeavors.

Rights Provided by Copyright

Creators, under the umbrella of copyright protection, are endowed with a constellation of rights. These include the right of reproduction, distribution, public performance, adaptation, and sale or rental. This intricate web of rights ensures that creators retain control over the dissemination and use of their creations.

Duration of Copyright Protection

In the Indian context, the cloak of copyright protection envelops creative works for a duration of 60 years. This temporal span underlines the delicate balance between fostering creativity and allowing for the eventual entry of works into the public domain.

Registration for Copyright in India

Delving into the procedural aspects, Chapter X of the Copyright Act, 1957, meticulously outlines the process of copyright registration in India. Ranging from Section 44 to Section 50A, this chapter serves as a road-map for creators seeking legal protection for their intellectual creations.

Landmark Cases:

Raj Television Network Limited v. Kavithalaya Productions Private Limited and Ors. In a pivotal case, the court grappled with issues of copyright ownership and infringement concerning 34 movies. The plaintiff, having acquired rights for 99 years, faced challenges when two movies surfaced on a third-party OTT platform. Despite contentions, the court issued an interim order favoring the plaintiff, emphasizing the importance of protecting the rights assigned to creators.


Under The Trade Marks Act, 1999, the term “mark” is comprehensively defined in Section 2(1)(i)(V)(m) to include a diverse array of elements such as a device, brand, heading, label, ticket, name, signature, word, letter, numeral. Furthermore, the term “Mark” within the Act extends its ambit to cover the shape of goods, packaging, or a combination of colors or any other type of combination.

Section 2(1)(i)(viii)(zb) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999, specifically defines a trademark as a mark that:

  • a trademark must be capable of graphical representation.
  • It should have the ability to distinguish the goods or services of one person from those of others.
  • The definition includes aspects such as the shape of goods, packaging, and combinations of colors.

Trademark Registration Process

Section 2(1)(i)(viii)(zb)(i) in the Trademarks Act, 1999, pertains to registered trademarks for goods and services, stating that the person has the right to use the mark as the proprietor.

Section 2(1)(i)(viii)(zb)(ii) in the Act establishes that a person has the right to use the mark either as a proprietor or a permitted user, with or without any indication of the identity of that person. This provision applies to both the proprietor and a permitted user, allowing the usage of a certification trademark or a collective trademark.

different types of trademarks

  • Service Mark: Designates services rather than tangible goods.
  • Certification Mark: Ensures that goods or services meet certain standards or specifications.
  • Collective Mark: Represents the affiliation of multiple entities, such as members of a trade association.
  • Trade Dress: Protects the overall appearance and image of a product, including its packaging and design.

Principle of Distinctiveness in a Trademark

The landmark case of Abercrombie & Fitch Company v. Hunting World (1976) laid down fundamental principles of distinctiveness in trademarks. This case established a spectrum to assess the strength of a mark, ranging from the strongest being a fanciful mark to the weakest being a generic mark. The spectrum categorizes marks into levels of protectability, defining the landscape of trademark distinctiveness.


In wrapping up, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) emerge as the guardians of innovation, creativity, and cultural heritage. From patents to copyrights and trademarks, these legal frameworks play a pivotal role in fostering progress. India’s journey reflects a commitment to global standards, making IPR not just legal concepts but essential drivers for growth and balance between creators and communities. In essence, they are the foundation for a society that values and encourages the exchange of ideas and the continual enrichment of our global community.


1. Patent Act 1970

2. Copyright Act 1957

3. Trademark Act 1999

4. B. L. Wadhera on Patent, Trademarks, and Copyright Law

5. P. Narayan on Intellectual Property Law

6. World Intellectual Property Organization

7. Bayer Corporation vs Union of India 2014 Bombay HC

8. Yahoo! Inc. v. Akash Arora & Anr 1999 Delhi HC

9. Raj Television Network Limited v. Kavithalaya Productions Private Limited and Ors.2020

10. Abercrombie & Fitch Company v. Hunting World 1976


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