Intellectual Property Rights
In the language of law, intellectual property is a term used to refer to certain legal claims, rights or dues in relation to certain inventions, names or titles, written and recorded media.
The people who own these legal entitlements may exercise rights that are specific to the subject or content of the intellectual property. As is clear from the use of the word
‘intellectual’, IP is concerned with the mind or something that is the result of a mental process.
By using the term ‘property’, we imply that the ideas generated through such mental processes are comparable to the creation of concrete or tangible objects.
The laws related to intellectual property vary according to the jurisdiction. However, effort has been made to bring about some amount of harmony through treaties including WTO (World Trade Organization), TRIPs (Agreement on Trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights), etc. A proper uniform or inflexible international system cannot really be put in place owing to various kinds of disagreements related to medical and software patents and the level of enforcement of copyright.
Laws related to intellectual property do not really pertain to the ideas or concepts per se. Instead, they provide special rights to protect the specific way in which the ideas are expressed or information is presented. In other words, ‘intellectual property’ here refers to the rights held by authors, inventors or creative people and not their intellectual work as such.
Intellectual property rights are meant to protect different forms of subject matter.
1. Copyright: For books, movies, music, paintings, photographs and software, a copyright is put in place providing the holder the right to check the adaptation of his or her creation or work of art for a specific time period. In other words, the copyright ensures that the copyright holder’s creative work is not reproduced by anybody during the period specified. This period may differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
2. Patent: Patents are assigned to inventions or novel creations of great utility. A patent provides the holder the right to stop others from using his or her invention without his permission in the form of a license or legal permit, during a specific period.
3. Trademark: A trademark refers to a distinct/unique logo, emblem or a sign that helps distinguish the product of one company or business from that of another.
Trademarks have their share of controversies. Although trademark rights prevent others from using the trademark, it does not really prevent others from producing similar goods or items or offering similar services under a different trademark.
4. Industrial design right: This right helps to secure or protect the design, pattern, appearance or style of any industrial or commercial product, for example, mobile designs, spare parts, accessories, furniture, etc.
5. Trade secret:This refers to a secret or some confidential information which is not meant to be made public. The information would usually concern the commercial practices of a business, which, if exposed may endanger the business or amount to breach of law.
All the above may together be referred to as industrial property since they pertain to commercial or industrial activities.