This article on ‘Recent Developments in Intellectual Property Laws in India‘ is written by an intern at Legal Upanishad.
This article will focus on what is intellectual property laws in India. What is intellectual property law, and the recent developments in intellectual property laws in India? Intellectual Property (IP) is a product of human intelligence and the mind. It refers to man-made creations and inventions. These intellectual properties are protected under the Intellectual Property Law which gives exclusive right to the inventor/manufacturer for a limited period.
The government has made various changes in intellectual property laws in India, however, out of all the great world economies India is the most challenging one regarding the enforcement and protection of these laws. In a recent UGC online workshop on intellectual property laws in India, the education minister threw light upon the importance of intellectual property in the national and international field, and its legal aspects. This workshop highlighted the fact that India is behind a lot of countries in respect of Intellectual Property Rights.
What is Intellectual Property (IP)?
Intellectual Property refers to the creations of the human intellect, like inventions, designs, literary and artistic works, symbols, and images used in commerce. It gives the exclusive right to individuals and organizations to exclude others from the use of their inventions without their consent.
According to Article 2 of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) “Intellectual Property shall include the rights relating to literary, artistic and scientific works, 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 the other rights resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or scientific fields.”
What is Intellectual Property Law?
Intellectual Property Law refers to the legal protection of the invention or creations of the people. It is legally protected by, patents, copyright, and trademarks. This enables the owners of IPRs to enforce their rights if any misuse of their invention happens. With this, they earn recognition and financial benefit from what they invent or create.
With the ongoing development and dynamic nature of the market, there is a need to protect the innovative works of intellectual property owners. Without any development, it will be unfeasible to expect the market to break a close boundary. The value of any development or change can be persisted if the rights of the innovators and producers are protected. Without providing any benefit to them, the market will imitate each other and there will be no standard and uniqueness in the products which will make it difficult for the sellers and buyers to choose a quality product.
Recent Developments in the Intellectual Property Laws in India
It was not only important for India to protect intellectual property rights in the Indian market, but also in the International market to achieve exclusivity over the distribution and production of the same. The Indian government took leaping steps by showing its commitment to the WTO under the (TRIPS) Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement. This made sure that the position on Intellectual Property Laws in India is accepted on an international level.
Some Developments are:
A trademark is a sign used to distinguish the goods and services of an entity from other entities. Its essential function is to present the origin of the goods to which it is attached or to which it is used. A trademark portrays the quality and nature of a product. The government of India replaced the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, of 1958 with the Trade Marks Act, of 1999.
This was done to bring the Indian trademarks law in persistent with international practice.
These were the changes made:
- For the first time, service marks were introduced for protection, through registration.
- Shapes, Graphic Representations, and color combinations were included in the trademark definition.
- The trademark registry issued an order allowing alterations in the applications for trademark registration which included substantial alterations, which would not be allowed. Other alterations include clerical alteration which would be accepted by the registrar.
- The registration period was also increased from 7 to 10 years.
- The new law allowed, both registered and unregistered trademarks to be assigned with or without the goodwill of the business.
2. Geographical Indication
A geographical indication is a sign used for associating certain products with a geographic location or origin. The quality of the product identifies its origin.
India enacted the geographical Identification of goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 which provides for registration and better protection of G.I. for products that would ease up the identification of goods that associate with quality, place of production, quantity, or any other characteristics of such goods.
Examples of such goods are Darjeeling tea, Alphonso Mangoes, Basmati rice, Hyderabadi Grapes, etc. These goods are recognized for their high quality and place of production in the international market. This makes them stand different from other products in the market and makes the such requirement of protection indispensable.
Copyright Law protects the original works of an individual author, composer, artist, work of major cultural industries, film, recording, and broadcast industry, as well as computers and software industries.
In India, the copyright is governed by the Copyright Act, 1957, and Copyright Rules, 2013. Various amendments have been made to date. In 2012, amendments were made to the copyright law which made the Indian copyright law in accordance with the WIPO copyright treaty (WTC) and WIPO Performance and phonograms treaty. It provided unique provisions for fair use, provisions for the disabled, amended author-friendly changes, etc., which made sure that fair usage survives in the digital age.
The Indian Government notified the Copyright (Amendment) Rules, in 2021, amending the copyright rules 2013. This was done to encourage transparency and accountability. These new provisions were introduced to deal with the undistributed royalty amounts and the use of electronic and traceable payment methods while collecting and distributing royalties.
Patent Law protects the exclusive right of a patentee (patent holder) which enables him/her to obtain commercial benefits from his/her inventions. This right stops a person from manufacturing, using, or marketing the invention without the permission of the patent holder.
Important amendments have also been made to patent laws, under The Patent (Amendment) Rules, 2020 (Revised Rules 2020) which came into force on 20th October 2020. Before the 2020 Revised Rules, the patentees and licensees were supposed to submit statements of commercial working for each annum. The Revised Rules 2020 eased the filing of a statement of commercial working of a patented invention for every financial year as the income statements in India are generally generated for a financial year from 1st April to 31st March.
- The development of IP laws is of vital importance and these developments will also take place in the coming days. Therefore, it is necessary to make people aware of these developments and changes. Lack of awareness can lead to unintentional infringement of these laws, as many people may not be aware of it.
- Spreading awareness can be done through print media, digital media, and providing updated knowledge about the developments in schools, colleges, and universities.
By understanding the above developments, it is clear that there is a need and demand for further amendments and changes in Intellectual Property Laws. With rapid technology development, globalization, and fierce competition there is a need for these laws to be compliant with international treaties and practices. The judicial process in India regarding IP laws is usually lengthy and uncertain. Issues remain pending in court for a long time which leads to judicial delays.
The uncertainties and delays create complications for various industries. Also, countries like the U.S have been involved with India through the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum’s Working Group on Intellectual Property. Furthermore, the U.S Government maintains a good relationship with the Indian Government to discuss better ways to improve the enforcement system in India. It’s the need of the hour to develop IP Laws and protect the creations and inventions of people from being exploited.
- “India is behind a lot of countries in terms of IPR: Education Ministry”. (2022, January 17). Retrieved from India Today: https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/news/story/india-is-behind-a-lot-of-countries-in-terms-of-ipr-education-ministry-1901175-2022-01-17
- “Protecting Intellectual Property”. (2021, 10 23). Retrieved from: https://www.trade.gov/country-commercial-guides/india-protecting-intellectual-property
- Sharma, S. (2019, October 17). All you need to know about intellectual property. Retrieved from: https://blog.ipleaders.in/need-know-ipr-laws-india/
- Srivastava, S. (2021, June 27). Development of IPR Laws in India. Retrieved from: https://www.mondaq.com/india/trademark/1084536/development-of-ipr-laws-in-india
- Suneja, K. (2021, April 8). Govt notifies Copyright (Amendment) Rules, 2021. Retrieved from The Economic Times: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/govt-notifies-copyright-amendment-rules-2021/articleshow/81969237.cms