Security is the thing which every person seeks. When it comes to scientist then they are looking for security of their innovation. Intellectual Property Rights gives security to scientist for their innovation. Intellectual property (IP) is a term referring to a brand, invention, design or other kind of creation, which a person or business has legal rights over. Foreign companies like Boeing believe India has strongest IP laws while recent case of Novartis lead pharmaceutical companies to believe it is weak. What are these laws? Let us see it in detail one by one. India is also a signatory to the following international IP agreements:

Paris Convention
It is anti discriminatory policy convention. Under this any person from a signatory state can apply for a patent or trade mark in any other signatory state, and will be given the same enforcement rights and status as a national of that country would be.

Berne Convention
This convention is related to authors and their writings. Under this convention, each member state recognises the copyright of authors from other member states in the same way as the copyright of its own nationals

Patent Cooperation Treaty
This treaty is like a central system for obtaining a multiple number of national patent applications in different jurisdictions through a single application. Whole of 8 chapters and 69 articles structures this treaty.

IP can be either registered or unregistered.
You automatically have legal rights over your creation. A photographer can put watermark on his/her photograph and it becomes photographer’s own IP. Unregistered forms of IP include copyright, unregistered design rights, common law trade marks and database rights, confidential information and trade secrets.

You will have to apply to an authority to have your rights recognised. If you do not do this, others are free to exploit your creations. For example an engineer has to get patented his/her innovation to patent register office of the respective country. Registered forms of IP include patents, registered trade marks and registered design rights.

Let us see them one by one.

  1. Copyright
    Relevant international convention is Berne convention. Internet piracy of films, music, books and software etc are included in this catagory. This protects written or published works such as books, songs, films, web content and artistic works. In India it is articulated in the Copyright Act of 1957 and latest amendment being Copyright Amendment Act 2012.
  2. Patents
    This protects commercial inventions, eg a new business product or process. It is registered form of IP. The regulatory authority for patents in India is the Patent Registrar within the department of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks, which is part of India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry. It is articulated in The Patent Act of 1970 and latest amendment being Patent Amendment Act 2005. Patents are valid for 20 years for product patent and 7 years for process patents from the date of filing an application, subject to an annual renewal fee. India’s patent law operates under the ‘first to file’ principle – that is, if two people apply for a patent on an identical invention, the first one to file the application will be awarded the patent. As an IIScian we should proud on our institute. GOI published its first printed register giving information about patent specification of applications in 1912. These specification registers were available to read free of cost for general public at approximately 15 places world wide. IISc was one of these 15 places. Those old specification registers are still available in our JRD main library. Our library has following volumes related to patents
    1. Govt of India patent specification registers.
    2. Govt of India patent office journals
    3. British Patents Specification Register
    4. Derwent World Patent Index(DWPI) gazette specifications.

    Apart from this, we have Intellectual Property Cell in campus which can guide you in registering patent.

  3. Designs
    This protects designs, such as drawings or computer models. The laws governing designs are the Designs Act 2000 and the Designs Rules 2001. Designs are valid for a maximum of ten years, renewable for a further five years.
  4. Trade marks
    This protects signs, symbols, logos, words or sounds that distinguish your products and services from those of your competitors. India’s trade mark laws consist of the 1999 Trade Marks Act and the Trade Marks Rules of 2002.

It reminded me to write one real life incident happened in my life. I was Students’ Council (SC) general secretary of IISc, Bengaluru, in 2012-13. We organised a event known as Samanway 2013: Career fair, connecting Industry with Academia. We prepared an information brochure and the preparator put up one photo. The photograph was of IISc emblem which was welded with grilled gate of IISc main gate. Suddenly from somewhere a girl wrote an email to SC GS email address saying the photograph is my personal creation and you can not put up in your website without my permission. Basically that girl wanted attention and wanted to create fuss in the event. Girl kept photography club of IISc and its past conveners in the loop of that communication mails. She get all the recipients aware what she is writing and wrote threatening mails asking immediate explanation why SC used her photograph. In fact from beginning I knew that she is wrong due to following reason.

  1. She did not take permission of institute registrar to take photograph.
  2. Photography is prohibited and it is written at all the gates.
  3. She was not institute student at that time.
  4. She took photograph of IISc logo which is one of the emblem. This must require written permission from institute. That itself is violation.
  5. She did not put watermark in the photograph.

Initially as a SC GS, I accepted my mistake and I apologized to her through email and immediately removed her photograph from the brochure though she was in fault. But later she tried to be over smart and continued to threat SC for legal actions. I knew one incidence at the time of Godhra riot 2002. In September 2011 a person named Qutubbuddin Narsuddin Ansari, who is face of 2002 Godhra riot, wanted ban of his photograph being used by NGO. In February 2013 He filed complain against producer of the Hindi feature film “Rajdhani Express” for using his photograph without his permission. At international level duke of Cambridge Prince William filled criminal case against a photographer who took photograph without their consent when couple was on vacation. It violated privacy.

Where she was wrong? She took photograph of the private property. Photographing technique and skills may be her own innovation but the object being photographed is not her own property and requires consent/approval from owner. After knowing these things I was calm and wanted her to go and register case against SC. But somehow she came to know that she is wrong and later kept quite. While remembering that incidence, I still laugh on her stupidity 🙂