Intellectual property rights
Authored By : Amrutha Valli
The value of intellectual property can be traced back to the ancient use by Roman brick-makers of stamps on bricks for identification purposes, and even before that, when the leaders of the ancient Greek city of Sybaris gave their founder monopoly on cooking a delicious dish for a year. Evidently, with the advent in science and technology and global industry, much has changed since then.
Intellectual property is a product of human intelligence and its rights allow its owner to take advantage of the fruits of this intellectual endeavor by creating a monopoly on it. Such a privilege is not necessarily a natural right but needs legislative approval.
Intellectual property rights, Patents Acts, Copyright Acts, Trade Mark Act, design Act
Intellectual property is the result of the human intellect including creative ideas, inventions, technological structures, logos, songs, literature, images, titles, brands, .... etc. Intellectual Property Rights do not vary from other property rights. They allow their owner to take full advantage of his / her product which was initially an idea which developed and crystallized. They often entitle him / her to prohibit anyone from using, communicating with, or exploiting his / her product without his / her prior authorisation. In reality, he / she can sue them legally and compel them to stop and make up for any losses.
History of IPR:
IPR is nothing new. IPR is thought to initially began during the Renaissance period in Northern Italy. In 1474 Venice published a patent rights statute, which gave the owner an exclusive right. The copyright as of 1440 A.D. When Johannes Gutenberg invented a replaceable / moving wooden or metal letter printing press. A number of countries felt the need, in the late 19th century, to lay down laws governing IPR. Globally, two conventions were signed which form the basis for the worldwide IPR system; the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883) Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886).
In India, intellectual property rights recognized under statute are:
· The patents Act, 1970
· The Trade Marks Act,1957
· The copyright Act,1957
· The Designs Act, 2000
· The Geographical Indications of goods (registration & protection) Act, 1999
· The Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout Design Act, 2000
· The biological diversity act, 2002
· The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001
Intellectual property rights (IPRs) play a vital role in all industries and have become the framework for important investment decisions. IPRs are proprietary privileges and so the challenge is always to strike a balance between the needs of innovators and society at large. Another important factor is providing a clear legal structure to safeguard innovators' rights and encourage trust that their intellectual property will be secured, which in turn will stimulate further innovation.
Due to the large number of courts, varying degrees of experience of judicial officers in IPR matters and varying practices, IPR litigation in India is quite diverse. As a result, some courts have become forums of preferred choice over others.
Most infringement suits are filed in Delhi and Mumbai, especially in these cities' High Courts. While these jurisdictions are preferred because of the extensive experience of their courts and a greater understanding of IPR matters, their large volume of cases is also attributable to the fact that Delhi is India's capital, and Mumbai is the economic capital of the country.
With the rapid growth of cases dealing with IPR laws – including patents , trademarks , copyrights and design laws – a total of 727 cases have been filed at the Delhi High Court and the Bombay High Court over the last year. Of these, 531 trade mark related cases followed by copyrights (157), designs (14) and patents (42). About 532 cases were granted ex parte injunctions, and there were 661 cases in which permanent injunctions were granted. In the past year only 92 cases have been settled.
The Indian Legislature created commercial courts in India by passing a new law in 2015, which came into force in 2016, with the goal of streamlining and speeding up commercial litigation, including IP litigation. Commercial courts have been set up at the district level under this act, and commercial divisions have also been set up within high courts of ordinary original civil jurisdiction. This new legislation has given commercial cases a separate treatment which includes cases relating to intellectual property. The new Act provides strict deadlines for various stages of a litigation, with almost no space for sluggish progress, despite the huge volume and sometimes late progress of the cases. Under the said Act, if any party believes that its adversary has no reasonable chance of succeeding in or defending an argument, and that collecting evidence will be superfluous, then a summary judgment can be obtained.
In addition to reforms in legislation to increase the pace of trials, the Government has taken steps to train judicial officers in such a way that IPR matters are handled expeditiously. The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM), which is a government body, worked along with WIPO and the National Judicial Academy, India (NJA) to coordinate training and awareness-raising programs on IPRs for judges of the High Court and District Court. Two trade law colloquiums for judges of the High Court were held at the Bhopal National Judicial Academy.
Indian courts, especially in IP cases, have recognized the value of curtailing wilful violation of IP rights and have liberally awarded creative punitive damages. Although the amount of punitive damages awarded by the courts is not very high, in addition to the actual damages these damages are granted and act as a deterrent.
Thus, as can be seen from the discussions above, developments in Indian litigation pose a very balanced approach to IP matters by the courts. On the one hand, courts do not shy away from granting ex parte infringer injunctions, and prolonged ex parte injunctions are also frowned on.