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Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) encompass the legal protections associated with intangible assets owned by individuals or companies, safeguarding them against unauthorized use. These rights pertain to the ownership of intellectual property, serving as a means to safeguard the intellectual creations of individuals, such as trademarks, patents, or copyrighted works, and enable their creators to reap the benefits. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) acknowledges intellectual property rights in Article 27, asserting that "Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary, or artistic production of which they are the author."

As such, the primary purpose of IPR is to acknowledge and reward human intellect by granting creators exclusive rights over their inventions, artistic expressions, musical compositions, and more.

Within this article, the author delves into the concepts of intellectual property and intellectual property rights, explores the international framework governing IPR, and delves into the laws concerning IPR in India, among other topics.

Definition and Essence of Intellectual Property 

Intellectual property (IP) represents a form of non-physical ownership arising from human intelligence and creativity. It encompasses the products of human thought and intellectual endeavors, including innovations, designs, literary and artistic creations, as well as symbols, names, and imagery employed in commerce.
The "Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organisation" defines "intellectual property" as encompassing rights related to:

  • Literary, artistic, and scientific works.
  • Performances by artists, phonograms, and broadcasts.
  • Inventions across various fields of human enterprise.
  • Scientific discoveries.
  • Industrial designs.
  • Trademarks, service marks, commercial names, and designations.
  • Safeguards against unfair competition.
  • All other rights stemming from intellectual activities in the realms of industry, science, literature, or art.

Additionally, other types of intellectual property cover geographical indications, rights pertaining to confidential knowledge or undisclosed information, and the arrangements of integrated circuit designs.

Definition of Intellectual Property Rights 

The term "Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)" refers to the collection of legal entitlements granted to the creator or owner of intellectual property. These rights pertain to the control a person holds over the products of their intellectual endeavors. They are designed to safeguard the interests of creators by compensating them for their intellectual efforts and allowing them to maintain ownership of their creations. Consequently, creators and inventors have the opportunity to profit from their work. IP rights are the legal provisions governing the utilization of intellectual property.

The rationale behind establishing suitable Intellectual Property (IP) laws to protect intellectual property is multi-fold:

  • Encouraging the development of inventions and creations that contribute to the social, economic, scientific, and cultural advancement of society by providing incentives to creators, enabling them to derive economic benefits from their work.
  • Supplying legal protection for intellectual creations.
  • Preventing third parties from benefiting from the creative output of others.
  • Facilitating equitable trade.
  • Fostering creativity and its dissemination.
  • Acknowledging and appreciating the endeavors of creators.
  • Guarding against unauthorized use that infringes upon creators' proprietary rights in their creations.
  • Promoting investments of skill, time, capital, and other resources into innovative activities in a manner beneficial to society.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Intellectual Property Rights

Advantages of Intellectual Property Rights

  • IPR protection provides your business with a competitive edge over similar enterprises.
  • It empowers you to prevent unauthorized utilization of your intellectual property and creations.
  • IPR increases your company's worth and opens doors for collaborations and opportunities to generate revenue, such as through licensing agreements for the exploitation of your inventions or works.
  • It aids in attracting customers and establishing your brand's value. For instance, consumers begin associating your products with a distinct logo or registered trademark.

Disadvantages of Intellectual Property Rights

  • Acquiring IPR protection entails additional expenses, including legal fees and other associated costs.
  • Even with intellectual property rights in place, you may encounter challenges in preventing the replication and unauthorized use of your work. Moreover, enforcing IP rights at times can result in a reduction in your consumer base.
  • IP rights are not absolute; they are subject to specific limitations and conditions imposed by the law, such as limited periods of protection and mandatory licensing provisions, in the public interest.

Elements of Intellectual Property Rights


The concept of "copyright" pertains to the rights held by creators and authors of literary and artistic works. It is also referred to as a "literary right" or an "author's right." Copyright grants authors exclusive rights to their creations and prevents unauthorized copying and publication of their work. Copyright protection begins as soon as a work is created and expressed in a tangible form. It is granted to original creations, and protection extends only to their expressions. Abstract ideas lacking tangible expression do not receive legal protection and are not covered by copyright.
Copyright safeguards two primary rights of the author:

  • Economic rights, which encompass the author's right to derive financial benefits from others' use of their work. This includes the right to authorize or prohibit the reproduction of the work in various forms and the right to prevent unauthorized translations, among others.
  • Moral rights, which protect the non-economic interests of the author. These rights include the ability to object to alterations to their work and the right to claim authorship.

Types of works eligible for copyright protection commonly include:

  • Literary works like novels, plays, poems, and newspaper articles.
  • Computer programs and databases.
  • Films, musical compositions, and choreography.
  • Artistic works such as photographs, paintings, drawings, and sculptures.
  • Architectural designs, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.

In India, copyright protection extends throughout the author's lifetime and continues for 60 years after their death.

Copyright Laws in India: The Copyright Act, 1957 

The Copyright Act, 1957 is comprehensive legislation governing copyright matters in India. It covers various aspects related to copyright, including:

  • Copyright registration
  • Publication and the duration of copyright
  • Assignment and licensing of copyright
  • Special rights of broadcasting organizations and performer's rights
  • Copyright infringement and associated remedies
  • The establishment of copyright authorities and copyright societies
  • International copyright

The duration of copyright protection provided under the Act varies for different categories of works, as follows:

  • Literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works: Author's life plus 60 years after death.
  • Anonymous and pseudonymous works: 60 years from publication. However, if the author's identity is revealed within that period, the protection extends to the author's life plus 60 years.
  • Posthumous works: 60 years from publication.
  • Cinematograph films: 60 years from publication.
  • Sound recordings: 60 years from publication.
  • Government work: 60 years from publication.
  • Works of public undertakings: 60 years from publication.
  • Works of international organizations: 60 years from the publication of the work.

Copyright Infringement 

Section 51 of the Copyright Act, 1957 defines what constitutes copyright infringement. Copyright is considered to be infringed when:

  • A person engages in an action that the copyright owner has exclusive rights to, or allows for profit the use of any place for communicating the work to the public in a manner that infringes on the copyright, without a license or in violation of the license's terms.
  • A person makes, sells, hires, or displays infringing copies of the work for trade, distribution, or public exhibition, or imports such copies into India in a manner that prejudices the copyright owner.

Section 52 enumerates acts that do not constitute copyright infringement, including fair dealing for personal or private use, research, reproducing work for judicial proceedings, and replication by a teacher or pupil for educational purposes, among others.

It's essential to note that the Copyright Act provides both civil and criminal remedies for copyright infringement.

How to Register a Copyright in India

The Registrar of Copyrights maintains a Register of Copyrights in which he records the names or titles of works, as well as the names and addresses of authors, publishers, and copyright owners. This process of entering or recording the names and other details of copyright owners in the register is known as copyright registration.

The procedure for copyright registration in India is outlined in Section 45 of the Copyright Act, 1957, in conjunction with Chapter XIII of the Copyright Rules, 2013.

Steps for Copyright Registration

  • Filing an Application: Any interested party, including the author, publisher, or owner of the copyright, can submit an application (Form-XIV of Copyright Rules) for copyright registration to the Registrar of Copyrights. The application should be accompanied by the prescribed fee for entering the work's particulars in the Register of Copyrights. An application for copyright registration pertains to a single work and must be signed by the applicant, who may be the owner or author of the rights. If the application is made by the copyright owner, an original no-objection certificate from the author in favor of the owner must be included.
  • Application for Registration of Unpublished Work: If the application concerns an unpublished work, it should be accompanied by two copies of the work.
  • Application for Artistic Works Used in Goods or Services: When the application relates to an artistic work that is used or could be used in connection with goods or services, it must include a statement and a Certificate from the Registrar of Trademarks confirming that no identical or deceptively similar trademark has been registered under the Trademarks Act, 1999, and no such application has been made.
  • Application for Registration of Artistic Work Eligible as a Design: In this scenario, the application must be supported by an affidavit stating that the design has not been registered under the Designs Act, 2000, and has not been applied to an article through an industrial process and reproduced more than 50 times.
  • Modes of Filing: The application for copyright registration can be submitted in the following ways:
    • In-person visit to the Copyright Office
    • By post
    • Online through the official website:
  • Notice of Application: The applicant must notify every person claiming an interest in the subject matter of the copyright or disputing the applicant's rights to the copyright.
  • Entry in Register of Copyright: A 30-day period is allowed for filing objections. If no objections are received, and the Registrar is satisfied with the accuracy of the application's details, the Registrar of Copyrights will enter these particulars in the Register of Copyrights.
  • Completion of Registration: Registration is considered complete when a copy of the entries in the register is signed and issued by the Registrar of Copyrights or the Deputy Registrar of Copyrights. Additionally, every entry made by the Registrar of Copyrights must be published in the prescribed manner.

Importance and Benefits of Copyright Registration

While copyright registration is not mandatory, it offers several advantages to the author or copyright owner, as stipulated in Section 48 of the Copyright Act. This section states that the register of copyright serves as prima facie evidence of the particulars entered and is admissible as evidence in all courts. Thus, a registered copyright holder is generally presumed to be the work's author or owner.
Copyright registration offers several benefits:

  • Protection against unauthorized use of the work.
  • Facilitation of claims of ownership and royalties when the work is used or adapted.
  • Specification of the date of publication.
  • Supporting the copyright owner's case in instances of copyright infringement claims.


A patent is a exclusive right granted for an invention, which can encompass a product, a method, or a process, that introduces a new way of doing something or provides a novel technical solution to a problem. Essentially, it is a monopoly right awarded to an individual who has created:

  • A new and useful item.
  • An enhancement of an existing item.
  • A new method for producing an item.

Patents are granted for inventions that hold industrial and commercial value. They bestow the exclusive right to produce the new item or use the invented process for a limited duration (typically 20 years from the application filing date) in exchange for revealing the invention. A patent holder can sell their patent or grant licenses to others for its exploitation.

Criteria for the Patentability of an Invention

  • Novelty: The invention must be new.
  • Inventive Step: It should involve inventive or non-obvious steps.
  • Industrial Application: It should be suitable for industrial use.

Scope of Protection Provided by Patents

A patent owner enjoys the exclusive right to prevent others from commercially exploiting the patented invention. Third parties are prohibited from manufacturing, using, distributing, selling, etc., the patented invention or product without the patent owner's consent.

Patent Law in India: The Patents Act, 1970

  • For an invention to be eligible for patenting, it must meet the requirements stipulated in the Patents Act, 1970. This act outlines the procedure for obtaining a patent, starting from the application filing to patent grant. It also covers the patentee's rights and obligations, patent duration, patent transfer, surrender, revocation, restoration, patent infringement, and available remedies. Patents are typically protected for a 20-year period, after which the technology or invention enters the public domain.
  • Section 3 of the Act enumerates inventions that are not patentable and hence cannot be granted a patent. Additionally, Section 4 deems inventions related to atomic energy as non-patentable.
  • It's noteworthy that in the past, product patents were not granted for medicines, food items, and chemicals; only the process of manufacturing these items could be patented. However, after the Patent (Amendment) Act, 2005, product patents can be issued for these products.

Patent Infringement and Remedies

Any infringement on the patentee's rights constitutes a patent infringement, including acts like creating a substantially similar imitation or using essential features of the invention. Under the Patents Act, Sections 47 and 107-A specify acts that do not constitute patent infringement. For example, importing machines or other items by or on behalf of the government, or using a patented process by or on behalf of the government, does not constitute patent infringement. The remedies available against patent infringement include:

  • Injunction
  • Damages or an account of profits
  • Delivery or destruction of infringing goods
  • Certificate of validity

Procedure for Obtaining a Patent in India

To secure a patent in India, the following steps are involved:

  • Filing of Application
    • Location: The patent application can be submitted either physically or electronically.
    • Place of Filing: The application should be filed at the head office of the patent office or the branch office based on the applicant's residence, place of business, or where the invention originated.
    • Modes of Filing: Applications can be filed through postal services, by hand, or electronically using the online portal (
  • Eligible Applicants
    • Patent applications can be made by:
      • The true and first inventor.
      • The assignee of the inventor's rights.
      • The legal representative of a deceased person entitled to make the application before their demise.
  • Form of Application
    • Each patent application is for one invention.
    • The application must assert that the applicant possesses the invention and identify the individual claiming to be the true and first inventor. If this person is not the applicant, the application should declare the belief that the named individual is indeed the true and first inventor.
    • The application must be accompanied by either a provisional or a complete specification.
  • Filing of Provisional and Complete Specification
    • A provisional specification provides an initial description of the invention at the time of application.
    • A complete specification provides detailed information, enabling someone skilled in the relevant field to use the invention effectively.
    • If the application includes a provisional specification, the complete specification must be submitted within 12 months from the initial filing. Failure to do so results in the application being considered abandoned.
  • Claim of Priority Date
    • The priority date marks the date when the patentee claims the invention.
    • Generally, the priority date corresponds to the filing of the provisional specification, provided the claims within are based on that description.
    • In cases where the application includes a complete specification or if any application is post-dated to match the complete specification filing date, the priority date will be the complete specification filing date.
  • Amendment of Specification
    • The applicant has the option to amend the application, complete specification, or other documents, either before or after patent grant.
    • Amendments should adhere to the prescribed procedure concerning Controller permission and publication.
  • Publication and Examination of Application
    • The patent application is not made public until 18 months have passed from the application filing date or the priority date.
    • The applicant can request earlier publication.
    • The application is published one month after the 18-month period.
    • Examination is initiated upon request by the applicant or other concerned parties and must be made within 48 months from the priority date or the application filing date, whichever is earlier. Failure to make the request within this timeframe results in application withdrawal.
  • Completing the Application for Grant
    • The applicant must fulfill all the legal requirements related to the application within 12 months from when the Controller issues the initial statement of objections, complete specification, or other related documents.
  • Opposition to Grant of Patent
    • Pre-grant Opposition: Prior to patent grant, any person can lodge a written opposition to the Controller against the patent's issuance.
    • Post-grant Opposition: After patent grant but within one year of publication, any interested party may oppose the patent. An Opposition Board may be constituted, and the patent can be revoked based on the Board's report.
  • Grant of Patent
    • If the patent application is found to be in order, a patent is granted.
    • The Controller publishes the fact of the grant, making the application and related documents available for public inspection.

What are the benefits of patent registration

  • Patent registration ensures the complete protection of your patent/invention against any unauthorised use for a period of 20 years. 
  • Patent registration allows you to enjoy monopoly in the market as regards your invention during the period of patent protection. 
  • Patent registration confers exclusive right to exploit the patent on patentee or his licensee or assignee.
  • You can licence the patent and gain royalties for the same.

Trademarks and Service Marks

A trademark is a distinctive symbol used to differentiate the products of one company from those of its competitors. Trademarks can take various forms, including single letters, logos, symbols, designs, numerals, and even three-dimensional attributes like product shape and packaging. According to Section 2(zb) of the Trademarks Act, 1999, a "trademark" is a mark that can be visually represented and serves to distinguish the goods or services of one entity from others. This definition encompasses various elements like the shape of products, their packaging, and combinations of colors. Thus, the primary characteristic of a trademark is its distinctiveness.

Service marks, on the other hand, are trademarks used in connection with services such as tourism, banking, and the like.

Key Functions/Purposes of Trademarks

Trademarks serve several essential functions:

  • They identify a product and its source.
  • They reflect a business's reputation and goodwill.
  • They assure consumers of the product's established quality.
  • They function as advertisements for products.
  • Registered trademarks provide legal protection for a brand.
  • They help build a loyal customer base by preventing imitation by others.

Trademark Law in India: The Trademarks Act, 1999

The Trademarks Act, 1999 was enacted to regulate the registration and protection of trademarks for both goods and services. The Act covers various aspects, including the registration process, the rights of trademark holders, international registration under the Madrid Protocol, use of trademarks, collective marks, certification of trademarks, assignment, and transmission of trademarks, infringement, and available legal remedies. Trademarks are initially registered for ten years but can be renewed indefinitely.

Trademark Infringement

To establish infringement of a registered trademark, certain conditions must be met:

  • The unauthorized use of the trademark.
  • The infringing trademark must be similar or deceptively similar to the registered trademark.
  • The infringing trademark must be used in the course of regular trade related to the registered owner's activities.
  • The infringing trademark must be visibly represented, typically in advertisements, invoices, or bills. Mere verbal use of a trademark does not constitute infringement.
  • Using either the entire registered trademark or one that has undergone minor additions or alterations.

Section 29 of the Trademarks Act outlines common forms of trademark infringement, such as using another's registered trademark for one's own trade promotion. Available remedies for trademark owners against infringement include filing a lawsuit for infringement and seeking criminal remedies.

Trademark Registration Process in India

The steps involved in registering a trademark in India are as follows:

  • Application for Registration
    • A person wishing to register a trademark must submit an application to the Registrar, accompanied by the prescribed fees.
    • A single application can cover different classes of goods and services.
    • The application should be filed in the territorial limits of the Trade Marks Registry corresponding to the applicant's principal place of business in India.
  • Refusal, Acceptance, and Withdrawal of Acceptance
    • The Registrar may accept or reject the application, with or without amendments or conditions.
    • If an error is found after acceptance but before registration, the acceptance may be withdrawn.
  • Advertisement of Application
    • After acceptance, the Registrar advertises the application to invite objections from interested parties.
    • In some cases, the application may be advertised before acceptance.
  • Opposition to Registration
    • Any person can object to the registration within four months from the advertisement date.
    • The Registrar, after hearing both parties, decides whether to allow or reject the registration.
  • Registration
    • If the application is accepted and unopposed, or if the opposition is ruled in favor of the applicant, the Registrar must complete the registration within 18 months from the application's filing date.
    • The date of registration is the date of application.
    • A certificate of registration is issued to the applicant.

Benefits of Trademark Registration

Trademark registration offers various advantages:

  • A registered trademark is an intangible asset that adds value to the business.
  • It helps establish brand value and a strong market presence.
  • Registration serves as prima facie evidence of trademark validity.
  • The registered holder has exclusive rights and can take legal action in case of infringement.
  • Trademark registration is valid for ten years and can be renewed.
  • Registered trademark owners can license or assign their rights to others.

Industrial Designs

An industrial design pertains to the visual or ornamental aspects of an article, encompassing both three-dimensional features, such as the article's shape, and two-dimensional features like lines, patterns, or colors. Industrial designs are entirely aesthetic, devoid of functional utility, and require legal protection to safeguard their creative originality and prevent imitation.

Protection Offered by Industrial Designs

The owner of a registered industrial design enjoys the exclusive right to prohibit others from producing, selling, or importing articles that replicate or closely resemble the protected design.

Products Eligible for Industrial Design Protection

Industrial design protection can be extended to various products, including but not limited to:

  • Industrial and artisanal items
  • Household commodities
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Jewelry
  • Electronic devices
  • Textiles, and more.

Legal Framework for Industrial Designs in India: The Designs Act, 2000

The Designs Act, 2000 aims to foster the development of innovative and unique designs while also striking a balance among competing interests. It achieves this by granting a time-limited monopoly right to registered industrial design owners. The Act encompasses provisions concerning design registration, copyright protection for registered designs, regulations regarding industrial and international exhibitions, procedures for restoring lapsed designs, penalties for the infringement of registered designs, and more.

Geographical Indications (GI)

Geographical indications (GIs) are utilized to designate products with a specific geographical origin. These indications are employed to convey the quality, reputation, or other distinctive characteristics of such products primarily attributed to their geographical source. Typically, GIs are associated with foodstuffs, agricultural goods, wine, industrial products, and handicrafts. Notable examples of GIs encompass items like Basmati Rice and Darjeeling Tea.

Advantages of GI Registration

GI registration bestows legal protection upon domestic/national GIs, which, in turn, bolsters export opportunities. It deters unauthorized utilization of a Registered Geographical Indication by others. GI registration supports the economic well-being of producers hailing from a particular geographic area.

Legal Framework for GIs in India: The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999

The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, establishes the framework for the registration and enhanced safeguarding of geographical indications linked to goods. The Act encompasses provisions pertaining to the establishment of a Geographical Indications Registry, the registration of geographical indications for goods, rights conferred through registration, the registration of authorized users of registered geographical indications, provisions for renewal, rectification and restoration of geographical indications, and the prohibition of registering a geographical indication as a trademark, among other aspects.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets constitute intellectual property rights associated with confidential information that can be traded or licensed. Trade secrets encompass any confidential business information, which may encompass designs, blueprints, business strategies, research and development-related information, etc. To qualify as a trade secret, the information must possess commercial value, be known to a limited number of individuals, and be subjected to reasonable measures taken by the rightful holder to maintain its secrecy.

Categories of Trade Secrets

Trade secrets can pertain to:

  • Technical information like details regarding manufacturing processes, designs, and computer program blueprints.
  • Commercial information, including distribution methods and advertising strategies.
  • Financial information, formulas, recipes, proprietary combinations, source codes, etc.

Layout Designs of Integrated Circuits

Integrated circuits are essential components in various products, including televisions, radios, mobile devices, washing machines, and data processing equipment. The layout designs of integrated circuits not only optimize space but also enhance system capacity and performance. In India, the Semiconductor Integrated Circuit Layout Design Act, 2000, regulates the registration, utilization, and protection of original and distinctive layout designs.

The Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout Designs Act, 2000

This legislation addresses the protection of layout designs for semiconductor integrated circuits. It has been enacted to implement Section 6 of Part II of the TRIPS Agreement, which pertains to Layout-Design (Topographies) of Integrated Circuits. The Act covers provisions related to the registration of semiconductor integrated circuits layout designs, encompassing the registration procedure and duration, the impact of registration, assignment and transmission of registered layout designs, usage of layout designs, and penalties for infringement of layout designs, among other aspects.

Other Intellectual Property Laws in India

The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001

This Act is aimed at offering legal protection for plant varieties, the rights of farmers, and plant breeders. It also encourages the development of new plant varieties. The Act includes provisions pertaining to the establishment of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority, registration of plant varieties and essentially derived varieties, the duration and implications of registration, rights conferred by registration, farmers’ rights, compulsory licensing, infringement of rights under the Act, and remedies available.

The Biological Diversity Act, 2002

The Biological Diversity Act, 2002, is designed to conserve biological diversity, promote the sustainable use of biological components, and ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits stemming from the utilization of biological resources and knowledge. The Act covers provisions related to the regulation of access to biological diversity, the establishment and functions of the National Biodiversity Authority, State Biodiversity Boards, Biodiversity Management Committees, and Local Biodiversity Funds, among other aspects.

A quick glance at the important Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual property rights | Law Optional Notes for UPSCIntellectual property rights | Law Optional Notes for UPSCIntellectual property rights | Law Optional Notes for UPSC

International Intellectual Property Rights Framework

The international landscape for the regulation and management of intellectual property rights has seen the formulation of various agreements, conventions, and treaties to address various facets and emerging challenges in the realm of intellectual property. Some of the key international instruments, conventions, treaties, and platforms associated with intellectual property rights include:

The Paris Convention on the Protection of Industrial Property

The Paris Convention, dating back to 1883, is the oldest international treaty and marks a significant milestone in the protection of intellectual property rights. It consists of 30 Articles covering diverse aspects and forms of industrial property, including patents, trademarks, service marks, utility models, industrial designs, geographical indications, and the suppression of unfair competition. In July 1967, the Convention was revised in Stockholm.

The Convention revolves around three core principles:

  • National Treatment: Every member state must offer the same level of protection to the citizens of other member states as it provides to its own citizens.
  • Right of Priority: The Convention introduces the right of priority concerning patents, utility models, marks, and industrial designs. This right enables applicants, within a specific timeframe from filing an initial application in one member state, to apply for protection in other member states. These subsequent applications are considered to have been filed on the same date as the first one, granting flexibility to applicants.
  • Uniform Rules: The Convention establishes consistent regulations that all member states must adhere to. For instance, patents granted in different member states for the same invention are considered independent of each other, and inventors have the right to be recognized as such. Furthermore, it mandates the protection of trade names in all member states without requiring registration.

Patent Cooperation Treaty, 1970

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), concluded on June 19, 1970, and effective from January 24, 1978, simplifies the process of filing patent applications in states that are parties to the treaty. It offers a mechanism for submitting a patent application and allows nationals of a contracting state to secure patents in numerous countries across the globe based on a single patent application.

Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, 1886

The Berne Convention, adopted in 1886, is a pivotal international agreement governing copyright protection. It establishes a minimum term of copyright protection, either for the lifetime of the author plus 50 years or an alternative of 50 years from the publication of anonymous and pseudonymous works.

The Convention is founded on three fundamental principles:

  • Principle of National Treatment: Artistic and literary works originating in a member state must be afforded the same protection in other member states as those nations offer to the works of their own citizens.
  • Principle of Automatic Protection: Protection should not be contingent on compliance with formalities. This ensures that original artistic and literary works are automatically protected globally from the moment of their creation, regardless of the medium used.
  • Principle of "Independence" of Protection: Protection is granted irrespective of whether it exists in the work's country of origin or not.

Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) was developed under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as an alternative to the Berne Convention of 1886. The Convention came into force in 1955. The Convention is based on the principle of national treatment and also requires each contracting state to maintain specific minimum legal safeguards protection of copyright. The Convention prescribes that the formalities required by the national law of a contracting state shall be considered to be satisfied if all the copies of a work originating in another contracting state carry the symbol ©, accompanied by the name of the copyright owner and the year of first publication.

Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations (1961)

The Rome Convention secures protection in performances for performers’, in phonograms for producers of phonograms, and broadcasts for broadcasting organisations. The Convention was concluded in 1961 and came into effect on 18th May 1964. It grants protection to performers if their performance takes place in another contracting state such as prohibiting the unauthorised broadcast of the performance. 

The WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) is a special agreement under the Berne Convention providing for the protection of works and the rights of their authors in the digital environment. According to the treaty, the works/subject matter protected by copyright include:

  • Computer programs; and 
  • Databases i.e. compilations of data or other material, in any form constituting intellectual creations. 

Hague Agreement concerning the International Deposit of Industrial Design, 1925

The Hague Agreement concerning the International Deposit of Industrial Design, 1925, as revised in 1960 seeks to facilitate international protection of industrial design through the provision of a single deposit with the International Bureau of WIPO in order to prevent possible infringement by other member states. The protection is offered when the industrial design is deposited on payment of a prescribed fee. Once the industrial design is registered and published, it will have the same effect in the contracting states as if it had been registered under the national laws. 

World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)

Established on 14th July 1967, WIPO is a global forum for intellectual property (IP) services, policies, information, and cooperation. It aims to develop an effective and balanced international IP system that encourages innovation and creativity for the benefit of all. WIPO has 193 member states.

Objectives of WIPO

  • Promoting intellectual property protection around the world through state cooperation and partnership with any international organisation;
  • Harmonising national intellectual property legislations and procedures;
  • To provide services with regard to international applications for intellectual property rights;
  • For exchanging information on intellectual property;
  • To provide legal and technical assistance concerning IP to developing and other countries;
  • Facilitating resolution of private intellectual property disputes;
  • Marshal information technology is a tool for storing, accessing and using valuable intellectual property information.

TRIPS Agreement

The WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) 1994 is an international level multilateral agreement that deals with the protection of intellectual property rights. The TRIPS Agreement recognizes the importance of IP in international trade and also provides a dispute resolution and prevention mechanism for trade-related IP issues. Every member of WTO is required to observe the provisions of TRIPs and provide a minimum level of IP protection in their national laws. 

Categories of IP covered by TRIPs

  • Copyright and related rights
  • Trademark
  • Geographical indications
  • Industrial design
  • Patent
  • Layout designs of integrated circuits
  • Protection of undisclosed information


The importance of IP in a world of technological, scientific, and medical innovation cannot be ignored at any cost. IP is a valuable asset since it provides a competitive advantage to the owner over other entities. To make the most out of IPR, it is advisable to get it registered. An intellectual property right is a proprietary right on the product of one’s intellect. These rights support innovation and help the innovators at every stage of the business development, competition, and expansion strategy. It is also noteworthy that registered and enforced IP rights enable the consumers to make an informed choice about the quality, safety, reliability of their purchase. 

The document Intellectual property rights | Law Optional Notes for UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course Law Optional Notes for UPSC.
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Intellectual property rights | Law Optional Notes for UPSC


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Intellectual property rights | Law Optional Notes for UPSC


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