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What is Intellectual Property


Intellectual property is an intangible property or proprietary asset, which applies to any product of the human intellect that has commercial value.


Intellectual Property Rights (I P Rights) are one’s legal rights in respect of the ‘property’ created by one’s mind – such as an invention, or piece of music, or an artistic work, or a name or slogan or symbol, or a design, which is used in commerce, in the form of books, music, computer software, designs, technological know-how, trade symbols, etc.


These rights are largely covered by the laws governing Patents, Trademarks, Copyright and Designs. These various laws protect the holder of IP rights from third party encroachment of these rights. It also allows them to exercise various exclusive rights over their intellectual property.


Intellectual property laws and enforcement vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. There are inter-governmental efforts to harmonise them through international treaties such as the 1994 World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), while other treaties may facilitate registration in more than one jurisdiction at a time.


With companies, institutions and individuals constantly forging ahead in newer fields and geographical territories and with path breaking inventions becoming the norm, the field of Intellectual Property Rights has assumed primordial importance, especially in emerging economies like India.



Patents are exclusive rights granted by the Government to a company/individual for an invention. Patents are time bound, in India for instance, patents are granted for a period of 20 years from the date of filing of the patent application. It is also to be noted that the patents are valid only within the territory where they have been granted.

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A Trademark is a word, or symbol, or phrase, or design, or any combination of these, which identifies and distinguishes the source or origin of a product or service. Other forms of identifying features which have come to be recognised as trademarks include particular colour combinations, smells and sounds (for example, an advertisement jingle), textures, packaging, shapes, etc.

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A Design refers to the features of shape, configuration, pattern, ornamentation or composition of lines or colours applied to any article, in two or three dimensional (or both) forms. It may be applied by any industrial process or means (manual, mechanical or chemical) separately or by a combined process, which in the finished article appeals to and is judged solely by the eye.

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Copyright is the right of the creator, say an artist, author, producer of films etc., who has created a particular work by use of their artistic skills.


Copyright includes literary, dramatic and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs, as well as computer software. Rights related to copyright also include those of performing artistes in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programs.

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