In past decades, rapid technological advancements have ushered in a new era
of global connectivity and informationaccessibility. In our technologically
evolved world, this revolution has not only sped up the distribution of
knowledge but also created vast prospects for a variety of informative resources
However, with this proliferation of information and services comes a critical
concern�the safeguarding of intellectual property rights (IPR) in the fiercely
competitive landscape of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). In the
dynamic realm of ICT, the protection of intellectual property rights has emerged
as a pivotal issue. These rights provide a legal framework to assert ownership
over innovative creations, thereby ensuring the welfare of the general public
and preserving the integrity of human creativity. They serve as a realistic and
indispensable means to take legal action against unauthorized use or replication
of intellectual assets.
The information technology environment is always changing due to the rapid speed
of technical advancement. The ability to come up with creative ideas is hampered
by the constantly shifting environment. While the increasing influxof new
digital resources is unquestionably advantageous, it also makes it more
difficult to preserve the authenticity and originality of creative works.
This article seeks to offer a comprehensive exploration of the intricate domain
of intellectual property rights within the context of the ICT sector. It delves
into the multifaceted concerns and issues intertwined with the protection of
intellectual assets in an era dominated by information technology. By
scrutinizing the evolving dynamics of IPR, this essay endeavors to shed light on
the critical role it plays in nurturing innovation,preserving creativity, and
fostering a thriving global information ecosystem.
Intellectual property rights (IPR) are legal rights that help shield the works
of human creativity. Examples of these include patents, trademarks, copyrights,
geographical indications, trade secrets and other forms. It's important to have
as they help boost innovation and economic growth in society. Although it may
sound modern, IPR has a history dating back to ancient civilizations where
artists and inventors were rewarded for their contributions to society. Since
then, it has changed to fit how our world has changed in areas like culture and
Today IPR covers an expanse amount of areas including agriculture,
biotechnology, software, entertainment and more. The importance of IPR cannot be
underestimated in today's society. Not only does it reward individuals with
incentives for their hard work but it also promotes innovation in many different
fields which can lead to better quality productsand services that enhance
But that's not all! They also help keep public health safe by keeping up with
changes in technology that can threaten us. They also preserve our culture and
heritage while also giving people access to knowledge and education which is
needed to move forward as a society. IPRs are therefore crucial for achieving
sustainable development goals (SDGs) and addressing the global challenges of the
Recent changes in the global landscape of science, technology, trade, and
economic development have strained the effectiveness of IPRs in safeguarding S&T
innovations. Developing countries, often with weak or non-existent patent and
copyright laws, have been viewed as hotspots for unauthorized expropriation of
intellectual property. Some governments have been complicit in this, turning a
blind eye to piracy or adopting protectionist policies to boost their infant
As a result, IPR issues have risen to political prominence, featuring agendas of
advanced industrialized nations and international trade negotiations. The
concern is that inadequate IPR protection could lead to significant economic
losses for innovating firms, potentially slowing down global innovation and
History Of IPR
Evolution of IPR Laws:
- Origin and History of Patents:
The concept of patents traces its roots back to 1331 when King Edward III of
England issued a historic letter's patent to John Kemp, a Flemish weaver.
This document granted Kemp exclusiverights to his invention, allowing him to
exploit it, teach his techniques, and conduct trade in England. Over time,
patents evolved from monarchs granting monopolies over specific industries
with new techniques, often used toraise funds for the crown. However, these
practices were widely abused. In 1601, a conflict between Parliament and the
Crown led to the transfer of patent administration to common law courts,
limiting the Crown's power. This eventually resulted in the Statute of
Monopolies, which outlined the granting of patents to inventors for a fixed
number of years.
- Origin of Patents in India:
India's journey with patents began with the introduction of Act VI of 1856,
aimed at encouraging inventions and their disclosure. Act XV of 1859
followed, granting exclusive privileges. Later renamed as The Patterns and
Designs Protection Act, it remained in effect for 30 years with a single
amendment in 1883. Subsequently, the Indian Patents and Design Act replaced
these laws, introducing provisions for secret patents, patent additions, and
a term extension from 14 to 16 years1. After independence, the Patents Act
of 1970 was enacted, addressing revisions to patent laws and is currently in
- Origin and History of Copyright:
Copyright shares a historical trajectory with patents, initially designed to
grantexclusive publishing rights to benefit governments and control
publications. In 1556, England established theStationers' Company's
monopoly, mainly to limit the power of the Protestant Reformation movement.
The Statute of Anne in 1710 marked a turning point, recognizing authors as
the primary beneficiaries of copyright law and setting limited durations.
Similar laws emerged in the United States (1790) and France (1793).
Evolution in India
Origin of Copyright in India: Copyright law arrived in India in 1847 during the East India Company's rule, with a copyright term of 42 years plus seven post-mortems. Registration was mandatory to enforce rights. In 1957, India enacted the Copyright Act, aligning with the Berne Convention's provisions. This act has seen several amendments, the most recent in 2012.
Origin and History of Trademark: Trademarks have been in use since the 13th century in England, with bakers being among the earliest adopters. England passed trademark legislation in 1266, distinguishing products through unique marks. Modern trademark legislation began in France in 1857, followed by the Merchandise Act in England in 1862.
Origin of Trademarks in India: In India, the Trademark Act of 1940, borrowed from the British Trademark Act of 1938, marked the beginning of trademark regulations. Post-independence, the Trade and Merchandise Act of 1958 was enacted. Subsequent amendments led to the Trade Marks Act of 1999, currently in force. This act serves to protect owners from competitors' mark confusion and safeguards the goodwill associated with trademarks.
The 1873 World Exposition in Vienna spurred the need for international
protection of inventions, leading to the Paris Convention for Industrial
Property and inventions in 1883. The Berne Convention, advocated by Victor Hugo,
followed in 1886 to protect literary and artistic works globally. In 1891, the
Madrid System for internationaltrademark registration emerged with the Madrid
The United International Bureau for the Protection of Intellectual
Property (BIPRI) was established in 1893, eventually becoming the World
Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 1970. WIPO, a specialized UN agency
since 1974, now includes 193 member states andadministers 26 treaties, including
the WIPO convention.
Key Types Of Intellectual Property Rights
- Copyright (The Copyrights Act, 1957)
Copyright safeguards the expression of original literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and computer works. It grants exclusive rights to authors, allowing performance, translation, and adaptations. Authors retain these rights even after assigning them partially or wholly. Protection lasts for the author's lifetime plus 60 years for certain works. Section 57 grants authors the right to claim authorship and seek damages for any detrimental distortion or modification of their work.
- Trademark (The Trade Marks Act, 1999)
A trademark, as defined by the Trade Marks Act, is a symbol, colour, shape, word, etc., capable of distinguishing one's goods or services from others. Trademark applications can cover marks in current use or intended for future use. Requirements for registration include distinctiveness and graphical representation. The Act outlines absolute grounds for refusal, including lack of distinctiveness, deception, and offensive nature. Relative grounds consider similarity to existing marks. India is part of the Madrid Protocol for international trademark registration, but initial filing must occur in India. Trademark protection is crucial for safeguarding brand identity, with an initial 10-year term and the option for perpetual renewal through timely applications.
- Patents (The Patents Act, 1970)
A patent is an intellectual property right safeguarding new inventions, granting exclusive usage rights to the inventor while preventing unauthorized use by others. Patents are valid for 20 years from the application date. To qualify, inventions must be novel, original, industrially applicable, and involve inventive steps. Patent holders enjoy rights to prevent third parties from using, selling, making, or importing the patented product or utilizing the patented process without prior consent. India is a party to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), enabling applicants to file for international patent registration. This allows inventors to obtain patent protection in multiple PCT-member countries simultaneously.
- Design (The Design Act, 2000)
In the context of the Designs Act, 'design' encompasses the shape, configuration, pattern, ornaments, or composition of lines or colors applied to any article, whether in two or three dimensions, using any industrial process or means, manual, mechanical, or chemical. It must appeal solely to the eye. To register an industrial design, an application must be submitted to the Controller-General of Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks. However, for registration to be considered, the design must meet certain criteria: it must be novel, original, not disclosed to the public in India or abroad, and distinguishable from known designs. Once registered, the design enjoys protection for an initial 10-year period, with the possibility of extension for an additional 5 years upon application.
- Geographical Indications (The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999)
Geographical Indication (GI) in India safeguards region-specific goods like 'Darjeeling tea' or 'Banarsi Saree,' renowned for their unique qualities tied to their place of origin. Covered product categories include agricultural, natural, and manufactured goods. Applications must detail the connection between origin, quality, and reputation, providing specifics and a geographic map. Once registered, GI protection lasts for ten years, with the option for renewal, extending in successive ten-year terms from the initial registration's expiration.
- Plant Varieties (The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmer's Rights Act, 2001)
The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmer's Rights Act, 2007, aims to recognize Indian farmers' rights and protect plant varieties, fostering the development of more varieties. As a member of the TRIPS agreement since 1994, India is obligated to provide such protection. Registered and protected plant varieties are listed in the National Register of Plant Varieties. Breeders, farmers, and authorized individuals can apply to register new plant varieties, subject to conditions like novelty, distinctiveness, uniformity, and stability. Protection is valid for nine years for trees and vines and six years for crops, with the possibility of renewal.
- Semiconductor Integrated Circuits (The Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Act, 2000)
A 'semiconductor integrated circuit' is a product containing inseparable
transistors and circuitry elements designed for electronic functions. The
Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Designs (SICLD) Act mandates that
registeredlayout designs must be original, not commercially exploited in India
or convention countries, inherently distinctive,and distinguishable from other
registered designs. Applications are submitted in writing to the
SemiconductorIntegrated Circuits Layout-Design Registry, located where the
applicant's principal place of business is RegisteredLayout Designs receive
protection for ten years 4.
Emerging Trends And Challenges In IPR
Blockchain's potential applications in IP include:
Biotechnology 5The emergence of biotechnology and the patenting of life forms have raised
complex legal and ethical questions. In the United States, the patentability of
proteins derived from natural sources has been a contentious issue. While the
U.S. generally allows the patenting of purified natural products, the UK takes a
different stance. This has led to internationalpolicy debates over the
patentability of natural genes and their availability for scientific research6.
One major challenge in biotechnology patenting is identifying the specific point
of invention, as many firms work simultaneously onsimilar proteins or sequences.
Delays in patent approval exacerbate this issue, as competing firms invest years
in research without clarity on patentrights7. The sequencing of genes in the
human genome project has reversed the traditional process of identifying
therapeutic value before sequencing, posing further challenges to patent
eligibility. The involvement of living organisms in biotechnology raises ethical
and technical questions, such as whether a patent should extend to the progeny
of apatented life form8. International organizations like WIPO and UPOV have
addressed these issues morecomprehensively than the U.S. Congress, offering
substantive proposals for intellectual property protection inbiotechnology. The
European Community has also proposed sui generis protection for biotechnology,
but it facesresistance on ethical and environmental grounds.
Computer ProgramComputer programs present unique challenges in intellectual property law. While
they are essentially text, they also exhibit behaviour, raising questions about
the nature of protection they should receive. The ease of reproducing software,
cheap copying, and code translation make copyright protection vital to prevent
However, once beyond copying, the rights of software producers become unclear.
Should users be allowed to decompileprograms for reverse engineering? Should
software be protected against other software using similar code or
programoutlines? Should protection extend to a program's user interface ("look
and feel"), novel algorithms, and standards/interfaces associated with programs?
These issues have arisen in an industry more akin to engineering than
literature, involving team-based development,constant updates, and the emergence
of open systems with evolving standards. Future challenges may arise with
programs for parallel processing and artificial intelligence, adding complexity
to intellectual property implications. In contrast to biotechnology, which faces
complex issues but relatively well-defined statutes, software law relies
oncopyright, which presents significant challenges. While courts have extended
copyright-like protection to structural features and the look and feel of
programs, critics argue this provides patent-like protection without requiring
In response to these difficulties, some firms seek software patents, although
this area remains opaque and contentious. Software's eligibility as patentable
subject matter is debated, with the relevant innovation often residing in the
program or algorithm itself, rather than its embodiment or application. Various
countries have explored their legal approaches,with Japan excluding program
languages, rules, or algorithms from protection, and the European Community
adopting asui generis directive with specific rules, including challenges
related to program interfaces. Overall, software lawgrapples with complex
questions and an ill-adapted statutory framework, suggesting the need for a sui
generis approach rather than relying solely on copyright.
Integrated Information NetworkThe integration of data networks, exemplified by services like Prodigy,
Compuserve, or Lexis, presents uniqueintellectual property challenges. These
networks grant computer access to a vast array of information sources,
frompublished data to real-time financial data, with the potential for enormous
growth. While the costs of distributing andsearching for information on these
networks approach zero, the expense of creating the information remains high.
Two major intellectual property issues emerge. First, defining the rights held
by the network itself, particularly in protecting the complex software necessary
for searching, linking, and translating data across databases.
Questions arise about whether such software should receive distinct treatment
and how far intellectual property law should go in safeguarding a network from
undesirable uses. The second issue involves protecting the information
withindatabases. As network computer capabilities advance, databases become more
sources of information than forms of expression. For instance, human language
material may be automatically translated by the network, blurring the line
between information and expression.
Copyright law precedents, such as Cable/Home Comm. Co. v. Network Prod. Inc10
provides some guidance but alsoraises questions about a network's control over
the manipulation and combination of its content. Further complications arise
from evolving technologies that enable more sophisticated computer-based
analysis of text, challenging the boundary between information and expression.
The copyright system, which may not adequately address these evolving issues,
poses significant challenges for both software and databases. Unlike the
software domain, where the National Commission on New Technological Uses of
Copyrighted Works (CONTU) provided guidance, data networks have no such
extrajudicial analysis, leaving U.S. courts to grapple with these intricate
problems independently. The European discussions about the copyrightability of
interfaces offer some insight into this evolving landscape, which could
significantly impact the global information industry's structure.
Artificial IntelligenceAI-related inventions and creations raise significant intellectual property
rights (IPR) challenges. The patentability of AI inventions is a key concern due
to their complexity and categorization difficulties. To secure apatent, an
invention must be novel, non-obvious, and useful. AI inventions often blur these
criteria, leading touncertainty. Another IPR issue is copyright protection for
AI-generated works. Copyright typically applies tooriginal and creative works,
but when AI entirely generates content, ownership becomes unclear. If AI is
considered a rights holder, issues of infringement and enforcement arise.
However, treating AI as a legal entity for such matters is impractical.
Accountability is a pressing concern when AI infringes on third-party rights11.
In copyright cases, providing access to protected work becomes easier.
Transparency is essential, especially if AI systems hold IP rights as trade
secrets, hindering transparency and responsibility in decision-making. The
challenge lies in maintaining transparency when AI involves multiple data
sources, dynamic development, andopaque elements, both for technological and
legal reasons12. Addressing these issues requires thoughtful adaptation of
intellectual property laws and a deeper understanding of AI's role in the
creative and inventive processes.
BlockchainBlockchain technology, characterized by encrypted and linked blocks, has a dual
relationship with intellectualproperty (IP). IP safeguards blockchain, while
blockchain enhances the IP regime's strength. In recent years, there has been a
surge in patent applications related to blockchain technology, with a notable
contribution from Indian applicants filing 39 out of 112 published applications
at the Indian Patent Office. Blockchain's attributes�immutability, security,
efficiency, and federation�can be leveraged across the IP lifecycle, including
registration, licensing, contractual agreements, and enforcement.
- Creation of IP: Blockchain can establish evidence of first inventorship, creatorship, or first use in trade, reducing litigation and identifying rightful owners.
- Transmission of Data on Blockchain for IP Rights: Filing data stored on the blockchain can provide strong evidence for "First-to-File" regimes, ensuring data integrity.
- Synchronized Search Databases: Blockchain can synchronize internal and external search databases, aiding patent examiners in anticipation searches.
- Record Keeping and Ledger Maintenance: IP offices can maintain tamper-proof registers using blockchain, ensuring data correctness and real-time updates during rights transfers, with audit trails for verification.
- Collaboration with WIPO: Immutable and traceable blockchain data facilitates collaboration with other IP offices, streamlining processes like the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) and information sharing with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
- Detecting and Preventing Counterfeiting: Blockchain assists in tracking and detecting IP violations, such as counterfeit goods and fake drugs, by providing evidence of genuineness and enabling robust supply chain tracking.
Blockchain's integration with IP not only enhances protection but also
streamlines processes and reduces legal disputes, making it a pivotal technology
in the future of intellectual property management.
Future Prospects And Policy Recommendations
Predictions for the Future of IPR:
The future of intellectual property rights (IPR)
will undoubtedly be influenced by technological advancements and changing global
dynamics. One significant development will be the increased role of artificial
intelligence (AI) in IP management. AI will play a pivotal role in tasks ranging
from patent searches tomonitoring copyright violations, enhancing the efficiency
and accuracy of IP enforcement. Additionally, blockchain technology will become
more deeply integrated into IP systems, offering heightened security,
transparency, and data integrity.
Another crucial aspect of the future of IPR is
the prospect of increased global collaboration. International cooperation in IP
enforcement will expand, focusing on addressing cross-border IP violations and
harmonizing regulations to create a more cohesive global framework. Furthermore,
the emergence of new technologies, such as quantum computing and biotechnology,
will introduce novel challenges for intellectual property protection,
necessitating innovative solutions.
Potential Reforms and Policy Changes:
To address the evolving landscape of
intellectual property, several reforms and policy changes are likely to be
considered. One pressing issue is the ownership and protection of IP generated
by AI systems. Clear guidelines will be needed to determine inventor ship and
copyright ownership, ensuring that AI's creative output is appropriately
attributed. Standardization of blockchain technology in IP management is another
area that warrants attention.
Developing international standards will be
essential to ensure interoperability and data consistencyacross jurisdictions.
Additionally, enhancing mechanisms for cross-border IP enforcement, including
strengthened collaboration between customs agencies, will be a priority. Efforts
to streamline patent examination processes using AIand machine learning will
help reduce backlog and improve patent quality.
Moreover, there will be a
growing emphasis on policies that strike a balance between the protection of IP
rights and fair use. These policies will promote the use of copyrighted material
for education, research, and transformative purposes while safeguarding the
rights of creators.
Balancing Innovation, Protection, and Access:
A critical challenge in the realm
of intellectual property will bestriking the right balance between innovation,
protection, and access. Maintaining robust IP protection will remainessential to
incentivize innovation and attract investment in research and development.
However, it will be equally important to ensure that IP rights do not unduly
restrict access to essential medicines, education, and information,especially in
low-income countries. Public-private partnerships will play a significant role
in addressing this challenge.
Collaboration between governments, private sector
entities, and academia will be encouraged to find solutions thatbalance the
interests of all stakeholders. Public awareness campaigns will also be essential
in fostering a culture ofrespect for intellectual property rights and
Lastly, adaptability will be a key principle in shaping future IPpolicies. Policymakers must develop flexible IP frameworks capable of evolving
to accommodate rapidly changing technologies and business models while upholding
the core principles of IP protection. In this dynamic environment, the future of
intellectual property will depend on the
The landscape of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) has been in constant change.
Especially now, in the age of infinite information and connections. It presents
a complex and dynamic scenario that is both hard to understand and work.
However, IPR still serves its purpose as a crucial mechanism to protect the
intellectual creations of individuals andincentivize innovation. One way it does
this is by giving inventors exclusive rights for a limited time. That way they
have full control over their creations and can promote the development of new
products and services.
As technology advances, so do patent laws. For example, India's patent act has
gone through many changes throughout its lifespan. Mostly focusing on sectors
like the pharmaceutical industry. This adaptability shows that IPR frameworks
can address new challenges and opportunities as they come up. An example is the
profound impact of a changing patent system in India's pharmaceutical industry.
The growth that we see there now comes from a long list of factors. Some are an
evolving patent system, increased innovation, and market demand. There are also
things like consistent improvement in science.
Now managing IPR extends beyond a national perspective, but is heavily
influenced by market dynamics, commercialization costs, and the need to
translate intellectual property into viable ventures. Different types of IPR
call for specialized approaches and knowledge in a range of fields, including
law, finance, marketing, and science. IPR awareness, especially in outlying
areas, is still a problem.
For innovators and creators to properly safeguard
their intellectual property, government activities to raise awareness of IPR are
essential. IPR concerns become more important as artificial intelligence (AI)
advances. To establish clear frameworks for patentability, copyright
protection and trade secret safeguards in the context of AI, collaboration among
businesses, legislators, and legal experts is crucial. In addition to encouraging
innovation, these initiatives will safeguard the rights of artists and
innovators, ensuring that IPR continues to adapt and flourish in our quickly
changing technological environment.
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