Written By- Karan Mayappa Bhanuse
Humans are the pinnacle of all the life forms present on earth in terms of intelligence. The human mind constantly tries to innovate and discover new things. To avoid robbing or copying of ideas intellectual property rights were introduced. These properties include literary and artistic works, designs, inventions, etc. these rights provide the creators exclusive rights for some time.
In India, the different ideas and inventions were protected by different acts. Copyrights are regulated under the Copyright Act, 1957; patents under Patents Act, 1970; trademarks under Trade and Merchandise Marks Act 1958; and designs under the Designs Act, 1911.
Types of intellectual properties
1. Copyright- The concept of copyright first came into existence in Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries. It was introduced to protect the author’s original work which was in danger due to mass copying by print presses. Copyright exists right from the moment the work is created and to protect from misuse and unauthorized uses a registration is required. People with copyright have the right to copy the original intellectual property. The work varies from music to artistic forms. Copyright in India is enforced by the Copyright Act, 1957. According to this act, copyright grants the creator lifetime coverage plus 60 years after death. The minimum punishment for an infringement of copyright is imprisonment for six months with a minimum fine of Rs. 50000.
2. Patents- They are rights granted to the creator which stop other competitors from using or selling the products. In India, the patent act was introduced in 1856 which remained unchanged for 50 years. In 1911 it was modified and was called "The Indian Patents and Designs Act, 1911”. After independence, a bill on patent rights was enacted and was called “The Patents Act, 1970”. It allows property rights on creation by allowing the patent holder/ creator to exclude others from selling, making, or using the invention. These allow small companies to develop by having a competitive advantage in the marketplace. For an invention to be considered new it has to fill a patent application to the Patent Office in India before being disclosed to the public. The word invention includes product as well as the process. Unauthorized making, using importing, or selling of any patented invention is considered an infringement of a patent. A civil action can be initiated in a court of law under the (Indian) Patents Act, 1970.
3. Trademarks- It is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that distinguishes a product from others from its other competitors. They must be distinct to qualify for patent protection. They can be acquired by registration with the Trademark Office under the Trademark Act, 1999 (which enforces them). Letter "R" in a circle i.e. ® with a trademark can only be used after registration. Infringement of trademark is a cognizable offence and criminal proceedings can also be initiated against infringers.
4. Designs- Industrial designs are designs that are used for mass-produced products. Considerable progress has been made in the field of science and technology which caused the need for a more efficient legal system for the protection of industrial designs. The Designs Act, 2000 was enforced to protect such interests. Industrial products usually contain elements of both art and craft, that is to say, artistic as well as functional elements. All design elements of a product are eligible for registration only if they are unique. If the furniture of ethnic design is being exported, it would be worthwhile having it registered in the country to which the product is being sold to avoid imitation. Infringement of this could lead to an interim injunction and damages.
5. Geographical indications-They are used on products to show their origin and use their reputation. Indian geographical indications had been misused by people outside India to indicate goods not originating from the named locality in India. India did not have such a specific law governing geographical indications of goods that could adequately protect the interest of producers of such goods. To cover up such situations it became necessary to have comprehensive legislation for the registration and for providing adequate protection to geographical indications and accordingly the Parliament has passed legislation, namely, the Geographical indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. If infringed is deemed as an act of unfair competition.
1. Bajaj Electricals Limited vs. Gourav Bajaj & Anr. - Plaintiff was a part of the Bajaj industry conglomerate and had electrical stores of the same brand name. The defendant owned 2 electrical stores and used the name 'Bajaj' as part of his store names. Bombay High Court held that such defence was not valid as the Plaintiff had adequately proved the mala fide intention of Defendant. The court passed an interim injunction against the use of the trademark in the store names as well as the domain name of the defendant. Plaintiffs established their right over the name by proving that 'Bajaj' had been legally granted the status of a well-known trademark.
2. Marico Limited vs. Abhijeet Bhansali – The defendant was a YouTuber who posted a video on his channel speaking ill of Parachute Coconut Oil, which belonged to the plaintiff's company. The company had earned enormous goodwill in the market due to their good quality of products and were vigilant about the bad comments being made of their products, as well as the usage of their trademark ‘Parachute’. Usage of trademark violated the rights of the plaintiff which amounted to infringement. Thus the case reached Bombay High court. By Section 29 of the Trademarks Act, 1999 the court declared that the defendant was guilty hence an interim injunction was passed against the defendant and was also made to remove the impugned video.
3. Star India Pvt. Ltd. vs. Moviestrunk.com & Ors – The plaintiff was a film production and Distribution Company and the defendants ran several online streaming websites. The suit was filed against the illegal streaming of the plaintiff's films on the defendant's sites, which infringed the copyrights of the plaintiff. To get relief from this the plaintiff approached the Delhi High Court. The court recognized the rights of the Plaintiff granted by the Copyright Act, 1957 and granted an injunction, and also awarded suitable damages.
Intellectual property will increase by many folds in the coming future due to the rapid growth of many small industries and efforts taken by the government. To adapt to these changes that happen the government made numerous changes to IPR to increase their efficiency and make it easier for companies to file patents. By such methods, the full potential of Intellectual property can be utilized and help in the economic development of the country.