Intellectual Property Rights: An Overview

No. A copyrighted piece in no way insinuates your right to copy. What a copyrighted piece does suggest though, is the right to grant a licence of your original literary work that stems from your own mind, to be granted for use under a legally binding deed to any other person or corporal body. Or not. If you don’t wish to. 

Humour aside, with all these new jargons about copyrights, patents, geographical indications, licences, intellectual labour yada yada it is but natural for common man to mistake one type of intellectual property with another. The author of this Article aims to bring about the very basic differences between the various types of Intellectual Properties (hereinafter referred to as “IP” since that sounds cooler) that exist and the differences therein. 

Intellectual property is divided into 2 major categories, i.e. Industrial Property and Copyright. Industrial Property includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs and models and geographic indications. Copyright, on the other hand, includes literary and artistic works namely music production, animations, novels, poems and other such works which are ornate in nature, so to say. The “Related Rights” are rights given to performers in performances or broadcasting organisations in the radio, OTT or television, for instance. Let’s have a look at the various types of IP starting from the types of Industrial Property.


A Patent is a kind of an IP which governs products of the mind which come out of invention and possessing the legal right thereof allows the owner of such right to exclude others from making, using or selling which means, it is a negative right (a right which restricts others’ usage). In India, patents are governed by the Patents Act, 1970. Sec 3 of the Act lays out a list of what is not construed to be an invention. In order for something to be Patentable, it can thus be gathered broadly by a mere perusal of Sec 3 that such an item should be a novel idea with some innovative value which doesn’t go against morality or public order.


Even from a distance, while driving on the highway, you might see an “M” in cursive in yellow font on a red board and you recognize the Mc. Donald’s drive-through! For any body corporate which might be involved in business or any other venture which associates a unique identity in the form of a mark for the public at large to recognize it with such mark, is the kind of IP which encompasses the subject matter of a Trademark. The legal definition of “Mark” as provided under Sec 2 (1) (m) of the Trademarks Act, 1999 is important which says that a “Mark” includes a device, brand, heading, label, ticket, name, signature,word, letter, numera, shape of goods, packaging or a combination of colours or any other combinations. 

Sec 29 of the Act helps us understand when a trademark is infringed which says that such is the case when the registered trademark is used by a person who is not the registered proprietor of the concerned trademark or is not, during the course of trade, permitted to use the same. 

So, the “Nike” hoodies that you find in the local markets for a couple hundred bucks (subject to your bargaining power) is in fact a classic example of such infringement!


As enshrined in Sec 2 (d) of the Designs Act, 2000, a ‘Design’ includes the features of shape, configuration, pattern or composition of lines or colour of a combination of those applied to any article in a very specific and unique manner through an industrial process. A design registered in India under the Designs Act, 2000 is referred to as a registered design and such design as in the Act can be two dimensional or three dimensional. For instance, a unique appearance of some product or the graphical user interface on the phone that you use, etc. 


According to Sec 2 (1)(e) of the Act, Geographical Indication is an indication which assigns some form of identity on goods which may be agricultural, natural or manufactured goods as originating from a very specific geographical location or a specific place where the quality of such goods is trusted to be of a certain standard by the masses and such right to produce these goods are specifically assigned to those specific places upon recognition. Kolhapuri Chappals, Kashmir Saffron, Darjeeling Tea and Tirpuati Laddu are some examples of Geographical Indications. Internationally though, there might be some discord in who must be assigned with the GI tag when some goods are naturally produced in a general locality with similar terrains but different Countries such as one which arose with regard to “Basmati Chawal (Rice)” when India applied to the EU for the protection of such and Pakistan vehemently opposed the move since India and Pakistan are the only 2 countries that are renowned and are known to export Basmati Chawal to the world.


Copyrights are governed by the Copyright Act, 1957. Sec 14 of the Act enshrines the meaning of Copyright as the exclusive right to do or authorize the doing of any of the acts as given therein in respect of a work or any substaintial part thereof.

Copyrights are granted for artistic and literary works and the person who creates such work is known as the “Author” of the work. In India, the copyright generally lasts for 60 years beyond the year of death of the owner, i.e. if the author dies in the year 2030, then the copyright shall persist for the entire year of 2030 + 60 years from the succeeding year post which the content is released into the public domain which means no one has the exclusive rights to it. For instance, if the Author and owner of a song is person X and a person Y wishes to use his song as background music in some commercial video of his, X must grant him licence to do so.


In conclusion, IP Rights and awareness thereof is spreading by the day and is necessary in order to give due credits to the authors and/or owners of the Intellectual Property. Watching movies on torrent or downloading free versions of movies too are a part of infringement of the rights of the people who have put in effort and have the legal ownership to it. All these forms of IP rights help to preserve the competitive advantage of the owners of the IP and even without legal registration, in certain cases can seek to protect any breach or grievance that might arise although registration of IP rights is advised to ease the process and avoid complications.

So, let’s all grow into this highly digital era as responsible denizens with Virtual and Augmented reality which is only bound to increase the necessity of infiltration of awareness and protection of these rights so that we all can stand together and fight IP Theft!


The Patents Act, 1970

The Trademarks Act, 1999

The Designs Act, 2000

Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999

The Copyright Act, 1957

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.


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The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

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In the year 2021, we wrote about 1000 Inspirational Women In India, in the year 2022, we would be featuring 5000 Start Up Stories.

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