Pharmaceutical Industry Law Insider

By Tashmayee Sarkhel

Published on: 31 August 2022 at 08:19 IST

The article covers the significance of IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) in the pharmaceutical industry. It would also show glimpses of what is Intellectual Property Rights and the different aspects related to them.

Intellectual Property Rights at the rights given over to persons for the creation of them out of their minds. It gives creators exclusive rights over the usages of or their creation over a certain period.

The importance of Intellectual Property Rights in pharmaceutical industries can be traced as an essential part as it gives absolute rights to companies for their market drugs for 20 years for identification, planning, commercialization, and protection of their invention.

IPR (Intellectual Property Rights):

They have legally enforced rights that protect the creation of inventions that result from intellectual activity or meaningful functioning of the mind in industrial, scientific, literary, or artistic fields.

They are mainly divided into two main areas –

  • Copyright and rights related to copyright

The rights of authors who give rise to any such literary and artistic works (books, writings, musical compositions, paintings, cultural computer programs, and films) are protected by copyright over a minimum period of 50 years after the author’s death. The rights of the performers (actors, singers, and musicians), producers of phonograms (sound recordings), and broadcasting organizations are protected by encouraging and rewarding original creative works.

  • Industrial property

They are divided into two distinctive areas,

The protection of distinctive science, in specification trademarks (which helps in distinguishing the goods or services from one another) and geographical indications (which identify a good as originating from its original geographical area and has similar characteristics to it), to ensure pure competition also by protecting consumers as they enable to make individual choices between various goods and services.

The protection of such does not have any specific period to it but the science used should be should remain distinctive as usual.

Inventions (protected by patents), industrial designs, and trade secrets are protected to arouse innovative ideas for the creation of technology, and also protect the results of investment in the development of the new technology which ultimately leads to finance research and developmental activities.

Various types of intellectual property rights can be stated as,

  • Patent – It is stated as an exclusive right that is granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides a new technical solution to a problem. To issue a patent, technical information about the invention must be disclosed to the public in patent applications.
  • Copyright – This is a legal term used to describe the rights upheld by a creator over his or her literary and artistic works.
  • Trademark – A sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises.
  • Industrial design right – It is a right that protects the visual design of objects that are not purely utilitarian (practical).
  • Plant Variety Rights (PVR) or Plant Breeders Rights (PBR) – They are the rights that are granted to the breeders of a new variety of plant that gives the breeder distinctive control over the propagating material (seed, cuttings, tissue culture) and harvested material (cut flowers, fruit, foliage) of a new variety for some time.
  • Trade dress – It is an aspect of trademark law that forms up the characteristics of a visual appearance of a product or packaging or design of a building that signifies the source of a product to its consumers.
  • Geographical Indication (GI) – It is a sign used on products that have a particular geographical origin and possesses its qualities. To function as a G, a sign must identify the place of origin of the given product.
  • Trade secret – It differs in different jurisdictions but possesses three common qualities, them being – not being public, offering some economic benefit, and being actively protected. The trade secrets are protected in the U.S. (United States) by the Economic Espionage Act of 1966[1].

Beneficiaries of Intellectual Property Rights can be understood as:

  • Intellectual property rights help turn ideas into money-making through the production of goods and services which are commercially successful.
  • Intellectual Property Rights help in enhancing business market value.
  • Intellectual Property Rights help in standing out from the competition by being unique and their name, brand, logos, and designs, which attracts people.
  • Intellectual Property Rights leads to financing raising thereby monetizing intellectual property assets whenever fund rising is required.
  • Intellectual property rights enhance opportunities that are related to business exports.

Drawbacks of Intellectual Property Rights can be stated as:

  • Intellectual Property Rights asses might pile up to additional costs if the product is complex and involves methods, designs, and processes.
  • Intellectual Property Rights faces issues of pirating if someone tries copying the respective inventory work.
  • As and when the rights of the intellectual property decrease, the value of the interaction property rights over any commodities also decreases.

Intellectual property rights in pharma industries:

The pharmaceutical industry is considered to be one of the most important industries in the world. With the uprising cases of diseases constituting many new among them affects people in any of the other ways, the pharmaceutical industries with their researches and new innovative ideas which helps many people in combating through diseases may it be deadly.

In consideration of today’s time, when the world is crucially affected by COVID-19, the medical scientists along with the core assistance of the pharmaceutical industries have played a very major role. The innovation of covid vaccines and booster vaccines can be taken as an exclusive example of it.

It is where these innovative creations require protection from being pirated through the implementation of Intellectual property rights upon them. It is the process through which the advancement in new medications has been made. The absence of it would affect the researchers from researching and exploring new areas in medical science for discoveries.

In a recent case, Merck Sharp and Dohme Corp. & Anr Vs SMS Pharmaceutical Limited[2], pronounced on 20th of July, 2021, an injunction was sought against the infringement by the defendant, of the plaintiff’s invention, Sitagliptin, an anti-diabetic drug (Indian Patent No. 209816 (“IN’ 816”, in short))[3].

Through this case, the importance of the implementation of Intellectual property rights could be easily understood. The relationship between a consumer and pharmaceutical products depends entirely on trust. For pharma industries, Intellectual property rights is a requirement for identifying, planning, commercializing, and protecting inventions.

In pharma industries, trademarks for different products help in distinguishing and protecting the brand on a company and product level. Patents to these products offer the pharma companies with distinctive rights to market their drugs and prevent others from selling, copying, and manufacturing these drugs for 20 years from the date of the application.

The core importance of Intellectual property rights in pharma industries could be overviewed with some points, them being,

  • If a company designs or develops a new drug or medical treatment, it must file a patent application or keep it as a trade secret for its protection.
  • It leads to the significant economic growth of a pharmaceutical company by giving all marketing rights of the invention to the inventor itself with options of selling or licensing it.
  • Intellectual Property Rights aim in providing public safety as it helps consumers in making an appropriate choice when selecting a medical product.
  • It even ensures a standard for the product which further makes a reliable and effective public health infrastructure.
  • It provides them with encouragement for the development of new drugs for newly acquainted diseases by providing incentives to them.
  • It even allows them to take up necessary action against counterfeit drugs as and when required.


Through the article, it could be summarised and believed that Intellectual Property Rights help in fostering innovations as without it the benefits of the inventions could not be fully utilized.

Therefore, enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in Pharma Companies plays an important role so that the intellectual properties extracted out of it are respected in the marketplace and are protected as well.

Author – Tashmayee Sarkhel, currently pursuing a B.A.LL.B. (Hons.) at University Law College and Department of Studies in Law, Bangalore University.

  1. Intellectual Property Rights
  2. Economic Espionage Act,1966
  3. Merck Sharp and Dohme Corp. & Anr Vs SMS Pharmaceutical Limited
  4. Indian Patent No. 209816
  5. Beneficiaries of Intellectual Property Rights
  6. Drawbacks of Intellectual Property Rights

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