Intellectual property rights (IPR) are a set of exclusive legal rights given to the creator or owner of an original idea, innovation, or product. These include the rights to ownership, usership and distribution. In India, the legal framework of IPR is well established, and there are several laws in place to protect different types of intellectual properties, such as copyright, trademarks, designs, and patents. Our focus here is to discuss the protection of Copyrights in India, and how it differs from trademark, design, and patents.
Copyright is a type of IPR that provides legal protection to the creators of original literary, artistic, musical, and dramatic works. This protection enables the creators to have exclusive control over the reproduction, distribution, performance and adaptation of their works. In India, copyright protection is granted under the Copyright Act of 1957. Once granted, such protection lasts for the lifetime of the creator and an additional 60 years after his death.
Examples of copyrightable works in India include books, paintings, songs, movies, programming codes of computer software and so on.
A trademark is a sign or symbol that distinguishes the products or services of one company from those of another. It can be a word, symbol, design, or combination thereof. Trademarks are used by companies to build their brand identity and protect their unique reputation in the market. In India, trademarks are protected under the Trade Marks Act, 1999. For this purpose, a registration will have to be obtained under the Act. Such registration, once granted valid for ten years, after which it can be renewed regularly.
Examples of trademarks in India include Nike’s swoosh logo, McDonald’s logo golden arches in the letter “M”, and Coca-Cola’s stylized script of its name.
Designs refer to the unique physical appearance or shape of an article. It can be categorised into industrial and artistic designs. Industrial designs refer to the features of shape, configuration, pattern, ornamentation, or composition of lines or colours that give a product a unique appearance. Artistic designs, on the other hand, refer to the original or artistic features of an article. In India, the Designs Act, 2000, provides protection for both industrial and artistic designs for a period of ten years.
Examples of designs may include the peculiar shape of a new car model launched in the market, the design of a smartphone, or the pattern on a dress.
A patent is a legal right granted to the inventor of a new and useful product or process. The patent gives the inventor the exclusive right to manufacture, use, and sell his product invention for a specified period of time. In India, the Patents Act, 1970, provides protection to patents for a period of 20 years from the date of filing the patent application.
Examples of patents include the process for making an anti-cancer drug, a new type of fuel cell, or a method for producing a new type of polymer.
While copyright, trademark, designs, and patents all protect different forms of intellectual property, they differ in their scope, duration, and subject matter. Copyright protects original works of authorship, while trademarks protect brand identities. Designs protect the unique appearance of an article, while patents protect new and useful product inventions.
Additionally, copyright protection is automatically granted as soon as the concerned work of art / literature is created. It lasts for the lifetime of the creator and an additional 60 years, while trademark and design protection requires registration lasting for ten years at a time. On the other hand, patent protection also requires registration and lasts for 20 years from the date of filing the patent application.