Intellectual Property Law: Meaning and Types

Intellectual property ("IP") encompasses a wide range of activities and is crucial to both economic and cultural life. Many laws that safeguard intellectual property rights take this value into account. In this post, we'll go through the many categories of intellectual property and how the law safeguards them. The current state of globalisation places a strong emphasis on IPR in international trade and daily life. While the lack of awareness of IPR and its ineffective application may impede the economic, technological, and societal advancements of a country, these rights foster a more creative environment by providing acknowledgment and financial rewards to creators or inventors.

What is Intellectual Property?

The term "intellectual property" (IP) refers to any works of art, inventions, computer programmes, trademarks, and other commercial indicators that are the result of human thought. The fundamental principle that underpins an innovation or creation is that it is the immaterial property of the person who worked on it. So, in accordance with the law, the inventor or creator is granted legal rights or monopoly rights in order to reap the financial rewards of their invention or production.

Why Does Intellectual Property Law Matter?

Our potential to create innovative ideas and creative works is essential to the development and welfare of humanity. New inventions must be created and used for technological advancement, and a thriving culture will continually look for new means of expression. Rights to intellectual property are also essential. The development of innovations and creations takes a lot of time, money, effort, and thinking on the parts of inventors, artists, scientists, and corporations. They need the opportunity to receive a reasonable return on their investment in order to be motivated to accomplish it. It entails granting them legal protection for their intellectual property.

International Recognition

Different legal regimes have traditionally recognised IP rights. For instance, patents were issued in Venice as early as the fifteenth century to protect inventions. With the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883) and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, modern efforts to preserve IP through international law got their start in 1886.

In order to safeguard IPR globally, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) was established in Stockholm in 1967; in 1974, it was added to the United Nations' family of organizations. IPR laws are developed and implemented globally by WIPO. In order to safeguard biodiversity and traditional knowledge while advancing economic, social, and sustainable cultural development, WIPO works to establish a fair and efficient international intellectual property system. There are currently over 25 international IP treaties that are overseen by WIPO. Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also protects intellectual property rights.

Objectives of Intellectual Property Law

Major objectives of intellectual property law are −

  • The goal is to reduce trade and investment distortions and impediments by promoting deeper economic integration and cooperation through the effective and adequate creation, utilization, protection, and enforcement of intellectual property rights, while recognising the importance of intellectual property rights. 

  • The Parties’ different levels of economic development and capacity, and differences in national legal systems;

  • The need to promote innovation and creativity;

  • The need to maintain an appropriate balance between the rights of intellectual property right holders and the legitimate interests of users and the public interest;

  • The importance of facilitating the diffusion of information, knowledge, content, culture, and the arts; and

  • That establishing and maintaining a transparent intellectual property system and promoting and maintaining adequate and effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights provide confidence to right holders and users.

  • The protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights should contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations.

Different Types and Categories of IP

Similar to physical property rights, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are territorial rights that allow the owner to sell, buy, or licence his Intellectual Property (IP). Although, in order to receive benefits, one must register IPR with the appropriate legal authorities in some visible or tangible form. Each type of IPR grants unique rights to its originator or inventor to maintain and reap financial rewards, which further encourages technological and societal advancements. IP is frequently separated into two primary groups −

Patent− A patent is an intellectual property right that a concerned government agency grants to an inventor for his new technical creation. In terms of the creation of a new product or method, "invention" refers to the resolution of any issue. Patents are widely regarded as the most valuable form of IPR, and for good reason.

One of the first forms of intellectual property that modern legal systems acknowledged were patents. Patented inventions now pervade every aspect of life, from the iPhone to electric lights (for which Edison and Swan both held patents) (patents held by Apple). The patent holder can prevent unauthorised use, production, or sale of an invention by obtaining exclusive rights to it through a patent.  The patent lasts for a limited period of time, generally 20 years.

Industrial Design − Industrial design rights cover a product's aesthetic or ornamental components, including how it feels and appears. Industrial design refers to the creative process of giving mass−produced goods or articles a decorative or aesthetic appeal. Two−dimensional or three−dimensional forms can be used to express the design.

Automobiles, telephones, computers, packaging and containers, technical and medical instruments, watches, jewellery, electrical appliances, textile patterns, and a vast range of other manufactured and handcrafted goods are just a few examples of the things to which industrial designs are applied.

Trademarks − A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Trademarks have been around for many years. In ancient times, artisans would sign or mark their work to prove they had made it. Gradually, laws evolved to protect such marks.

Legal protection allows the owner of a mark to control who uses it. This means that enterprises can develop and promote their goods and services without having their reputation undermined by counterfeiters, and consumers can rely on trademarks being genuine.

Geographical Indication − A geographical indication is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. Applications of geographical or locality origin to identify goods for trade purpose is not a new phenomenon. Certain agricultural products have especial qualities that are influenced by geographical climate or soil.

Copyright and Related Rights

"Copyright," or "authors’ rights," is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have in their literary, artistic, and scientific works. Copyright covers an enormous range of works—not just books, music, paintings, sculpture, and films, but also computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings, among other things.

Copyright is protected by a mixture of national and international laws. These recognise the cultural and social importance of creative endeavour as well as its considerable economic value. The following literary and artistic works are covered under copyrights −

Copyright Works Examples
Literary and scientific works It include novels, poems, reference works, newspapers, plays, books, pamphlets, magazines, journals, etc.
Musical work Examples of musical work are songs, musical instruments, choruses, solos, bands, orchestras, and so on.
Artistic works Paintings, drawings, sculpture, architecture, advertisements, and other.
Photographic work It includes, portraits, landscapes, fashion or event photography, etc.
Motion pictures Examples of motion pictures are film, drama, documentary, newsreels, theatrical exhibitions, television broadcasts, cartoons, videotapes, DVDs, and so on.
Computer programs It includes, computer programmes, software, and their related databases; maps; and technical drawings


Intellectual property rights are crucial for the growth of a knowledge−based society. IPR is a fundamental requirement to participate in both local and international competitive trade, as it is virtually impossible to foster a creative environment without the diffusion of IPR knowledge and application. IPR must be taught in the foundational educational system, and policymakers must encourage IPR registration by supporting creators and innovators.

Frequently Asked Question

Q. Who has control over intellectual property?

In general, the copyright to a work, idea, or innovative invention is assumed to belong to the person who originally created it. The copyright, however, belongs to the employer if the work was produced under a work−for−hire arrangement or an employer−employee agreement.

Q. Who stands to gain from intellectual property?

Protection of intellectual property (IP) is essential for the success of innovation. It encourages creativity and has the potential to benefit society, businesses, and workers directly.

Q. Is it possible for someone to steal your intellectual property?

Intellectual property theft occurs when a person or organisation has their invention, creative expression, or idea stolen by some unauthorized person. IP theft possible for anything including trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks, or patents, names, logos, insignia, inventions, client lists, etc.

Q. What does not qualify as intellectual property?

Concepts, techniques, or systems, business practises or procedures; scientific or technological approaches or discoveries, principles of mathematics, algorithms and formulas.

Updated on: 15-Dec-2022


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