Earlier, we used to rely on tangible property for income generation. Later in 1883, two conventions, addressing importance of intangible property worldwide, were signed: Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883) and Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886). Intangible property gained significance when industrialists understood that IP assets also hold economic value.

Intellectual property is the intangible creation from the human intellect. It can range from innovative idea of electric toothbrush to a romantic melody or a new variety of tomato to KFC’s secret recipe.

Under these conventions, Intellectual property has been categorized into 9 portions:

types of IPR

Another categorization seen in the industry is as follows:

  • Industrial Property: patents, trademarks, industrial designs, geographical indications and trade secret.
  • Copyright: literary and artistic works

Let us discuss each right individually:

1. Patents: The competitors often copy Inventions. Best way to restrict them is ‘patent protection’.

2. Trademarks: I bet you can recognize KFC or Café Coffee Day even if you are in the middle of nowhere. This is because you can identify them with their trade marks.

3. Copyrights: Chetan Bhagat, famous Indian author, sued Aamir Khan Productions for not giving him story credit. This happened because every singer, author, poet, cartoonist and creator can protect his creation under Copyright. Copyright subsists in websites, novels, poems, plays, films, musicals, cartoons, paintings, photographs, statues and architectural designs.

4. Industrial designs: Squared edges of Apple’s iPhone are design protected. Apple won a suit, for copying icon design, against Samsung.

industrial design

5. Traditional knowledge: Turmeric is used in India since ages for healing wounds and acne. Similarly, knowledge that has been transferred from one generation to other will be considered as traditional knowledge.

6. Trade secrets: Some assets, with economic value, are never disclosed publicly like, KFC’s Chicken coating recipe or Coca Cola’s secret ingredients.

7. Geographical Indication: Banarsi saree, Hyderabadi pearls, Pashmina shawl, and Nagpur oranges gained reputation because of their geographic origin.

8. Semiconductor Integrated circuits & layout design: Arrangement of elements of a circuit can be protected under this right. A chip can automate a manually working device. TV remote is perfect example of automation.

9. Plant Breeders’ right: New varieties of plants, produced by breeders and farmers, can be protected under this right.

Importance of IPR

  • Enforcement measures can protect your innovation from infringement
  • Research and development is promoted by giving right to exploit the invention for a certain period of time
  • You can claim compensation or damages in case someone has stolen your creation
  • Foreign trade can be attracted from creative ideas

In India, IPR is an emerging field and few people are aware about IPR and its types. Counterfeit products, fakes and first copies have forced innovation industry to focus on protection of invention. This is when IPR has earned significance. As I discussed earlier, IPR can protect innovation from infringers. Even if you’ve faced damages, compensation can be claimed. So, it is very important for industrialists & creators to focus on protection equally.