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What is Intellectual Property? and Rights of owner

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intellectual property Law Insider

intellectual property Law Insider

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The Concept

Intellectual property, very broadly, means the legal rights which result from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary and artistic fields. Countries have laws to protect intellectual property for two main reasons.

One is to give statutory expression to the moral and economic rights of creators in their creations and the rights of the public in access to those creations. The second is to promote, as a deliberate act of Government policy, creativity and the dissemination and application of its results and to encourage fair trading which would contribute to economic and social development.

Generally speaking, intellectual property law aims at safeguarding creators and other producers of intellectual goods and services by granting them certain time-limited rights to control the use made of those productions.

Those rights do not apply to the physical object in which the creation may be embodied but instead to the intellectual creation as such. Intellectual property is traditionally divided into two branches, “industrial property” and “copyright.”

The Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), concluded in Stockholm on July 14, 1967 (Article 2(viii)) provides that “intellectual property shall include rights relating to: – literary, artistic and scientific works, – performances of performing artists, phonograms and broadcasts, – inventions in all fields of human endeavor, – scientific discoveries, – industrial designs, – trademarks, service marks and commercial names and designations, – protection against unfair competition, and all other rights resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields.”

The areas mentioned as literary, artistic and scientific works belong to the copyright branch of intellectual property. The areas mentioned as performances of performing artists, phonograms and broadcasts are usually called “related rights,” that is, rights related to copyright. The areas mentioned as inventions, industrial designs, trademarks, service marks and commercial names and designations constitute the industrial property branch of intellectual property.

The area mentioned as protection against unfair competition may also be considered as belonging to that branch, the more so as Article 1(2) of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (Stockholm Act of 1967) (the “Paris Convention”) includes “the repression of unfair competition” among the areas of “the protection of industrial property”; the said Convention states that “any act of competition contrary to honest practices in industrial and commercial matters constitutes an act of unfair competition” (Article 10bis(2)).

The expression “industrial property” covers inventions and industrial designs. Simply stated, inventions are new solutions to technical problems and industrial designs are aesthetic creations determining the appearance of industrial products. In addition, industrial property includes trademarks, service marks, commercial names and designations, including indications of source and appellations of origin, and protection against unfair competition.

Here, the aspect of intellectual creations—although existent—is less prominent, but what counts here is that the object of industrial property typically consists of signs transmitting information to consumers, in particular as regards products and services offered on the market, and that the protection is directed against unauthorized use of such signs which is likely to mislead consumers, and misleading practices in general.

Scientific discoveries, the remaining area mentioned in the WIPO Convention, are not the same as inventions. The Geneva Treaty on the International Recording of Scientific Discoveries (1978) defines a scientific discovery as “the recognition of phenomena, properties or laws of the material universe not hitherto recognized and capable of verification” (Article 1(1)(i)). Inventions are new solutions to specific technical problems.

Such solutions must, naturally, rely on the properties or laws of the material universe (otherwise they could not be materially or “technically” applied), but those properties or laws need not be properties or laws “not hitherto recognized.” An invention puts to new use, to new technical use, the said properties or laws, whether they are recognized (“discovered”) simultaneously with the making of the invention or whether they were already recognized (“discovered”) before, and independently of, the invention.

What Is a Copyright?

A copyright is a type of legal protection given to content creators and artists. When a person creates a story, a work of art, or a piece of software, the copyright provides legal ownership of the work. The creator receives exclusive rights to the use and distribution of the work for a set amount of time.

Copyright law in India is governed by the Copyright Act, 1957, which has been amended six times, with the last amendment in 2012. It is a comprehensive statute providing for copyright, moral rights (known as author’s special rights) and neighbouring rights (rights of broadcasting organisations, performers and droit de suite).

The Act provides for exhaustive economic rights (copyright) in various works that are transferable. Moral rights exist in perpetuity and are vested in the authors and their legal representatives, being non-transferable and enforceable by the authors and legal representatives even when the copyright in the work has been assigned.

The Copyright Rules, 2013 came into force from 14 March 2013 and provide for the procedure to be adopted for relinquishment of copyright, compulsory licences, statutory licences, voluntary licences, registration of copyright societies, membership and administration of affairs of copyright societies and performers’ societies.

Who enforces it?

Copyright can be enforced in civil courts and criminal courts. Civil remedies for the copyright owner include injunction, damages and a rendition of accounts. Infringement of copyright is also an offence under the Act and may incur imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of up to 200,000 rupees. The Copyright Act provides an enhanced penalty on second and subsequent conviction.

The Copyright Board constituted under the Act provides an alternative forum for resolving certain limited disputes, such as those pertaining to assignments and payment of royalties.

The Act also provides for border enforcement of copyright and other rights and provides for the confiscation of infringing copies of copyright works as prohibited goods, which is carried out by the customs department under the supervision of the Commissioner of Customs provided there is an order within 14 days from the date of detention from the court that has jurisdiction.

Types of Intellectual Properties and their Description

Originally, only patent, trademarks, and industrial designs were protected as ‘Industrial Property’, but now the term ‘Intellectual Property’ has a much wider meaning. IPR enhances technology advancement in the following ways:

(a) It provides a mechanism of handling infringement, piracy, and unauthorized use

(b) It provides a pool of information to the general public since all forms of IP are published except in case of trade secrets.

IP protection can be sought for a variety of intellectual efforts including

(i) Patents

(ii) Industrial designs relates to features of any shape, configuration, surface pattern, composition of lines and colors applied to an article whether 2-D, e.g., textile, or 3-D, e.g., toothbrush

(iii) Trademarks relate to any mark, name, or logo under which trade is conducted for any product or service and by which the manufacturer or the service provider is identified. Trademarks can be bought, sold, and licensed. Trademark has no existence apart from the goodwill of the product or service it symbolizes.

iv) Copyright relates to expression of ideas in material form and includes literary, musical, dramatic, artistic, cinematography work, audio tapes, and computer software.

(v) Geographical indications are indications, which identify as good as originating in the territory of a country or a region or locality in that territory where a given quality, reputation, or other characteristic of the goods is essentially attributable to its geographical origin

A patent is awarded for an invention, which satisfies the criteria of global novelty, non-obviousness, and industrial or commercial application. Patents can be granted for products and processes. As per the Indian Patent Act 1970, the term of a patent was 14 years from the date of filing except for processes for preparing drugs and food items for which the term was 7 years from the date of the filing or 5 years from the date of the patent, whichever is earlier. No product patents were granted for drugs and food items.

A copyright generated in a member country of the Berne Convention is automatically protected in all the member countries, without any need for registration. India is a signatory to the Berne Convention and has a very good copyright legislation comparable to that of any country.

However, the copyright will not be automatically available in countries that are not the members of the Berne Convention. Therefore, copyright may not be considered a territorial right in the strict sense. Like any other property IPR can be transferred, sold, or gifted.


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Management of Intellectual Property in Pharmaceutical Industries

More than any other technological area, drugs and pharmaceuticals match the description of globalization and need to have a strong IP system most closely. Knowing that the cost of introducing a new drug into the market may cost a company anywhere between $ 300 million to $1000 million along with all the associated risks at the developmental stage, no company will like to risk its IP becoming a public property without adequate returns.

Creating, obtaining, protecting, and managing IP must become a corporate activity in the same manner as the raising of resources and funds. The knowledge revolution, which we are sure to witness, will demand a special pedestal for IP and treatment in the overall decision-making process.

Competition in the global pharmaceutical industry is driven by scientific knowledge rather than manufacturing know-how and a company’s success will be largely dependent on its R&D efforts. Therefore, investments in R&D in the drug industry are very high as a percentage of total sales; reports suggest that it could be as much as 15% of the sale. One of the key issues in this industry is the management of innovative risks while one strives to gain a competitive advantage over rival organizations.

There is high cost attached to the risk of failure in pharmaceutical R&D with the development of potential medicines that are unable to meet the stringent safety standards, being terminated, sometimes after many years of investment. For those medicines that do clear development hurdles, it takes about 8-10 years from the date when the compound was first synthesized.

As product patents emerge as the main tools for protecting IP, the drug companies will have to shift their focus of R&D from development of new processes for producing known drugs towards development of a new drug molecule and new chemical entity (NCE). During the 1980s, after a period of successfully treating many diseases of short-term duration, the R&D focus shifted to long duration (chronic) diseases. While looking for the global market, one has to ensure that requirements different regulatory authorities must be satisfied.

It is understood that the documents to be submitted to regulatory authorities have almost tripled in the last ten years. In addition, regulatory authorities now take much longer to approve a new drug. Consequently, the period of patent protection is reduced, resulting in the need of putting in extra efforts to earn enough profits.

The situation may be more severe in the case of drugs developed through the biotechnology route especially those involving utilization of genes. It is likely that the industrialized world would soon start canvassing for longer protection for drugs. It is also possible that many governments would exercise more and more price control to meet public goals.

This would on one hand emphasize the need for reduced cost of drug development, production, and marketing, and on the other hand, necessitate planning for lower profit margins so as to recover costs over a longer period. It is thus obvious that the drug industry has to wade through many conflicting requirements.

Many different strategies have been evolved during the last 10 to 15 years for cost containment and trade advantage. Some of these are out sourcing of R&D activity, forming R&D partnerships and establishing strategic alliances.

What types of rights are covered by copyright?

The Copyright Act, 1957 sets out the following rights of copyright to the copyright owners:

  • In the case of literary, dramatic or musical works – the exclusive right to reproduce including storage in any medium by electronic means, issue copies, public performance, make any film or sound recording in respect of that work, to translate and to adapt the work and the right of communication to the public (which is defined widely enough to cover dissemination over the internet).
  • In the case of computer programs – all rights as mentioned for literary works in addition to selling or giving on hire, or offering for sale or hire for commercial rental any copy of the computer program.
  • In the case of artistic works – to reproduce the work in any material form. This may include storing it in any medium by electronic or other means or depicting a two-dimensional work in three dimensions or vice versa. Copyright in an artistic work also includes the exclusive right to communicate the work in public, issue copies of it, include it in a cinematograph film, and translate or adapt the work in any way.
  • In the case of cinematograph films – to make copies of the film (on any medium, electronic or otherwise) including copies in the form of photographs that form a part of the film, sell or give on hire, or offer for sale or hire any copy of the film, to sell, give or offer for sale on commercial rental copies of the film and communicate the film to the public.
  • In the case of sound recordings – to make any other sound recording embodying it on any medium including storing of it on any medium, to sell or give on commercial rental or offer for sale such rental and to communicate the sound recording to the public.

The author enjoys moral rights independent of copyright, being the right to paternity and integrity, which exists despite assignment of copyright. However, this does not extend to adaptation of a computer program for fair dealing purposes. It is also specifically stated that violation of moral rights (specific to the right to integrity) is judged objectively.

Moral rights can be enforced by the legal representatives of the author. The 2012 amendments to the Act provide that a legal representative of an author can exercise both paternity as well as integrity rights in a work. The 2012 amendments also consciously omit the previous co-extensive term of moral rights with copyright by specifically removing the copyright term restriction on a claim for right to integrity by the legal representative. Moral rights are not assignable (although on general principles as it is a civil right and not a fundamental right under the Indian constitution, moral rights can be waived).

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