Intellectual Property- An Overview

Intellectual Property is the property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. In other words, the term Intellectual Property refers to creation of minds i.e inventions, literary and artistic works and symbol, names and images. There are many types of intellectual property most well-known types are copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets.

The earliest use of the term “Intellectual Property” appears to be in 1845 by Justice Charles I. Woodbury, judge of Massachusetts Circuit Court, in the case of Davoll et al v. Brown (7 F Cas 1997), in which he wrote that “only in this way we can protect intellectual property, the labours of mind, production and interest is as much a man’s own as the wheat he cultivates, or the flocks he rears”.

To understand the term Intellectual Property, one has to understand the concept of property. Property is either corporeal or incorporeal. Corporeal is tangible property and can be seen through eyes, whereas Incorporeal property means intangible property and cannot be seen through eyes.

Traditionally Intellectual Property was divided into two categories: – Industrial Property and Copyright. Industrial Property is the one which includes patent, Trade Marks, Industrial Design and Geographical Indications, Semiconductor layout, whereas Copyrights consist of property consisting in literary works (such as novels, poems and plays) films, music, artistic works (e.g. drawings, painting, photograph and sculptures) and architectural design. Rights of performers, producers of phonographs and broadcasting rights are also covered by Copyrights.

Now, industrial property and copyright was brought together and named as “Intellectual Property”, which includes Patents, Trade Marks, Copyrights, Industrial designs, Geographical indication, Semi-conductor and Integrated circuits, Biological Diversity, Plants Varieties and Farmers Rights and Undisclosed Information (Trade Secrets) etc.

Intellectual Property- An Overview

Patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, a new way of doing something or offers a new technical solution to a problem. In order to be patentable, the invention must fulfil certain conditions i.e. it must be new, involve an inventive step, be industrially applicable.

Patents provide incentives to individuals by offering them recognition for their creativity and material reward for their marketable inventions. These incentives encourage innovation, which assures that the quality of human life is continuously enhanced. Patent also provides protection for the invention of the owner of the patent. A patent owner has the right to decide who may or may not use the patented invention for the period for which the invention is protected.

Copyright is the right given by law to the creator of literary, dramatic, music and artistic work.  A copyright gives the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time. Copyright does not cover ideas and information themselves, only the form or manner in which they are expressed. The copyright Act, 1957 protects original literary, dramatic, music and artistic works and cinematography, films and sound recordings from unauthorised use.

Trade Marks is a distinctive sign which identifies certain goods or services as those produced or provided by a specific person or enterprise. Its origin dates back to ancient times, when craftsmen reproduced their signatures, or marks on their artistic or utilitarian products. A trademark provides protection to the owner of the mark by ensuring the exclusive rights to use, to identify goods or services or to authorize another to use it in return of payment. Trade mark protection is enforced by courts, which in most systems have the authority to block trademark infringement. Trade mark promote initiative and enterprise worldwide, by rewarding the owners of trademarks with recognition and financial profit.

Industrial Design (sometimes called “design right” or design patent) protects the visual design of objects that are not purely utilitarian. An industrial design is the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of an article. The design consists of three-dimensional features, such as the shape or the surface of an article or of two-dimensional features, such as patterns, lines or colour. Industrial design is applied to a wide variety of products of industry and handicraft from technical and medical instruments to watches, jewellery and other luxury items.

Geographical Indication is a sign used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities, reputation or characteristics that are essentially attributable to that place of origin. A geographical indication includes the name of the place of origin of goods like Darjeeling Tea, Champagne Wine, Scotch Whisky, Kohlapuri Chappals, Basmati Rice, Pashmina Wool etc.

Semi-Conductor and Integrated Circuits refers to the layout design prevalent in an integrated circuit. Protection of the layout design prevalent in an integrated circuit is given by The Semi-Conductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Act 2000. Before this act integrated circuits in India were protected by copyrights and patent laws. This act provides protection of layout design by registration. Protection of the layout design is for the period of 10 years.

Intellectual Property- An Overview

Biological Diversity is an act enacted by Government of India in year 2002, to ensure the conversation of biodiversity in India, sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources.

Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights: – Government of India enacted “The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers” Rights act in 2001 (PPVFRA) to provide legal protection to plant varieties and to protect the rights of plant breeders, as India was the member of Union Protection of New Varieties of Plant (UPOV) Convention and WTO. To protect and benefit the breeders of new plant varieties, to protect and benefit the farmers as cultivators and conservators of traditional local plant varieties which may be used in the development of new varieties and to encourage the growth of seed industry through domestic investment are the main three objectives of this act. India is the one of the first countries in the world to have passed a legislation granting rights to breeders, farmers and researchers under the PPVFRA, 2000.

Trade Secret are relatively newer form of intellectual property. There are certain corporate or business secrets that cannot be divulged. These are known as intangible assets. Trade secrets are like goodwill. The only requirement to qualify as a trade secret is that it must be kept as a secret. Violation of trade secret could result in unfair competition or tort liability as well as criminal sanctions.


Intellectual property is the ideas of the human from the minds of the person. Ones own creation or method of a particular thing is termed as Intellectual Property. Intellectual Property is intangible which means it cannot be seen. There are many types of Intellectual Property, different type of Intellectual Property can be protected under various acts like copyright of a particular work can be protected under copyrights act, such as others of Trade Marks, Patents and others. To protect work, one should register it under the specified act and department and restrict others from copying it.