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Learn about IP

What is ‘intellectual property’?
Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.

It includes new or improved devices, chemical compounds, drugs, genetically engineered organisms, software, or unique, improved and innovative uses of existing inventions.

What is a patent?
Patent is the right granted by the State to an inventor to exclude others from commercially exploiting the invention for a limited period of time, in return for the disclosure of the invention, so that others may gain the benefit of the invention.

What does a patent do?
A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. Patent gives the inventor the legal right to create a limited monopoly by excluding others from creating, producing, using, selling, offering for sale or importing the invention.

How long is a patent term?
This right is of limited duration— for a period of 20 years from the date of filing the patent application, provided renewal fees are paid within the prescribed period.

What kind of protection does a patent offer?
Patent protection means that the invention cannot be commercially made, used, distributed, sold or imported without the prior consent of the patent owner. These patent rights can be enforced in a court. On the other hand, third parties can challenge issued patents and a court can also declare a patent invalid upon a successful challenge.

What rights does a patent owner have?
Patent rights are exclusive in nature, entitling the holder to exclude others from making and using the patented article and using the patented process. A patent holder is entitled to patent rights only after the grant and seal of patent.

The patent holder may give permission, or license, or assign the patent rights to other parties to use the invention on mutually agreed terms. The patent owner may also sell the right to the invention to someone else, who will then become the new owner of the patent. He also has the right to proceed against an infringement of his patent to claim his patent rights.

Why are patents necessary?
The granting of intellectual property rights (IPRs) balances public-sector and private-sector interest in that the invention must be disclosed publicly, and inventors possess the limited rights to exploit the invention for a pre-defined period of time. This assists the public good because it allows others to improve upon the invention, after the termination of the monopoly rights, to develop competing products (as opposed to an invention kept as a trade secret).

What are the requirements for patent protection?
With regard to patentability of inventions, the patent law of most countries insist upon three basic criteria for determining whether a claimed invention is eligible for a patent right. Prior to that, an invention must fall under ‘patentable subject matter’ to be eligible for patentability and it must be:
1) new (or ‘novel’);
2) involve an inventive step (new or is ‘not obvious’); and
3) capable of industrial application (or have ‘utility’, or be ‘useful’)

Who can own patents?
The owner of a patent is the inventor(s). However, the inventor may transfer ownership to anyone. Employees of an organization usually assign the rights to their invention to their employers as part of their employment contracts.

What are the advantages of patents to inventor?

  • Exclusive right to use the patent
  • Grant Licences
  • Prevent others from copying the monopoly granted in IP owner’s favour
  • Technological inventions lead to monetary reward and boost further innovations.

What are Geographical Indications?
Agricultural products are the result of specific soil, climatic conditions and topography of the geographical area in which it is grown. Geographical indications are used to inform consumers about the geographical origin of a particular product. It suggests that their special quality and characteristics are the result of the product’s particular geographical origin. Well-known examples include “Basmathi”, “Darjeeling Tea” and “Roquefort” cheese.

What are the advantages of Geographical Indications?
Geographical indications are valuable to producers as they are the source identifiers. Geographical indications, if not adequately protected, may be misused and misrepresented by dishonest commercial operators. False use of Geographical indications by dishonest parties is detrimental to consumers and legitimate producers. India has enacted the Geographical indications of goods (Registration and protection) Act in 1999 to protect the geographical indications.

What is Plant Variety Protection (PVP)?
Plant varieties are useful and precious biological resource. Plant Variety Protection (PVP) is sui generis system to protect the plant varieties. This is an alternative to the traditional intellectual property framework of protection.

At international level, The International Union for the protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) governs the protection of new plant varieties. PVP allows the plant breeder to protect new plant varieties for a term of 20 years (25 for tree crops). It is considered a sui generis system, i.e., a system of rights designed to fit a particular context and need that is a unique alternative to standard patent protection. In India, the Act for the protection of the plant varieties and farmers’ right came into existence in 2001.

A plant or plant variety becomes eligible for protection if it satisfies the criteria of stability, novelty, non-obviousness, uniformity and being distinct.

What are the advantages of Plant Variety Protection?
The Act enables the establishment of new varieties of plants. Prior authorization of the farmer/breeder shall be required for the production or reproduction, conditioning for the purpose of propagation, offering for sale, selling or other marketing, exporting, importing, and stocking for any of the above purposes.