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Changing Dimensions Of IPR

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 and services.

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, industrial design,

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 technology.

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 competitiveness.

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 21st century.

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 industries.

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 economic growth.

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 use.
  • 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 Agreement.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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

  • Biotechnology 5

    The 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 Program

    Computer 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 direct copying.

    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 patent-quality innovation.9

    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 Network

    The 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 Intelligence

    AI-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.
  • Blockchain

    Blockchain 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.
Blockchain's potential applications in IP include:
  • 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 limitations14.

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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  2.  Microsoft Technology Licensing Llc V. Assistant Controller Of Patents And Designs 2023 DHC 3748
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  5. Stempeutics Research Pvt. Ltd. v. Assistant Controller Of Patent & Designs, 2932/CHE/2009
  6. Garanayak, S. (n.d.). Significance of Intellectual Property Rights in Modern Era: An Overview. In M. P. Singh (Ed.), Transforming Dimension of IPR: Challenges for New Age Libraries (pp. 17–25). National Law University Delhi Press.
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  8. Research Foundation ... v. Ministry Of Agricult...1999 SCC 1 655
  9. Dit v. Hrs Seismic Services Ltd. 2015 SCC ONLINE ITAT 5872
  10. 15 USPQ 2d 1001 (11th Cir. 1990)
  11. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 1993. Global Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights in Science and Technology. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
  12. M/S. R.M. Traders, R... v. The Commissioner Of … Writ Petition No. 18946 of 2012 & M.P. No. 1 of 2012
  13. Bhatia, H. (2023). Artificial Intelligence and IPR (Intellectual Property Rights). Retrieved from
  14. Singh, B., & Tripathi, A. K. (n.d.). Blockchain Technology and Intellectual Property Rights. Journal of Intellectual Property Rights, 24, 41–44.
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