Types of Intellectual Property

Now that we know what Intellectual Property (IP) is , we can attempt to categorize various types of IP.

Any output of the human intellect can be classified as IP. And since there can be many different types of such outputs, there are different types of intellectual property (IP). This post just introduces them , while other posts will set them out in more detail. So, the types of IP, each with its corresponding laws, include the following.

1) COPYRIGHT : Essentially, an ‘original’ expression of mind falls under copyright. This expression of course has to be on a medium. It could be as mundane as on a wall, of course paper, and as ‘advanced’ as electronic/ digital media. The expression is termed as ‘fixation’ , and once so ‘fixated’ it is protected by copyright. So, as usually said, literary, artistic and scientific works ( articles, paintings, books, CD-ROMs etc. ) fall under Copyright.
In India, Copyrights are covered under The Copyright Act, 1957 ( Last amended 2012) .

2) RELATED RIGHTS : A copyrighted product may be further creatively added to , in order to make it more useful and/or increase its dissemination to the public. Such efforts are protected by related rights. For instance, a poem is written by A and A gets the copyright to the written poem. This written poem is put to music by a musician B and performed to that music by a singer C. B and C are entitled to corresponding related rights of their efforts. A broadcaster D puts together the equipment to broadcast the song to a territory. D’s efforts ( that could be more in the form of investment in broadcasting equipment but in a sense business planning, putting such equipment together and efficient operation also needs human intellect) are also protected. Digital dissemination such as using Internet requires and receives another layer of protection under laws of related rights.
In India, related rights are covered under The Copyright Act, 1957 ( Last amended 2012) .

3) PATENTS : Protection of inventions is granted by patent laws. Patenting is perhaps the most remunerative of intellectual activity. However not all ‘inventions’ as understood in the layman’s language are ‘inventions’ per such laws and all efforts of patent laws focus on finding ‘true’ inventions, granting them protection by patenting, and handling the disputes that can happen at any stage of the process and even later.
For more about Patents, see ‘what is a patent’ .
In India, patents are covered under The Patents Act 1970 ( Last amended 2017).

4) INDUSTRIAL DESIGN : Industrial design is concerned with the shape of an article ( not its function ) and has its own specialized laws.
In India , Industrial Design is covered under The Designs Act, 2000 .

5) TRADEMARKS : Which also includes service marks, certification marks, commercial names and logos. Essentially these serve to differentiate similar products/ services ( or groups of such products and services) in the market place.
For more about trademarks, see ‘ what is a trademark’ .
In India, trademarks are covered under The Trade Marks Act, 1999, as amended in 2010.

6) GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS : Geographical Indications, as the name indicates, point towards the origin of goods and services. They are useful when such an origin can indicate in the market place some attributes ( for instance quality, taste etc.) associated with the location. For instance, Basmati rice and Champagne wines.
In India Geographical Indications are the subject of The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 .

7) PLANT VARIETIES : This category of IP aims to protect rights of breeders of new plant varieties.
In India, plant varieties are subject of The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Right Act, 2001.

8) LAYOUT DESIGN OF INTEGRATED CIRCUITS : Integrated circuits (ICs) are electronic circuits where various components are assembled in a certain order on the surface of a thin semiconductor material (usually silicon). ICs aim to become ever-smaller and incorporate more components for enhanced functionalities. This is achieved by innovative layout design of integrated circuits. A new layout design involves high financial investment in addition to creative, technical and innovative inputs. Hence they need protection.
In India, layout designs of ICs are granted protection under The Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout Design Act, 2000.

9) OTHER LEGISLATION : While strictly not a ‘type’ of IP, I am including this here since these serve to assist in protection to different types of IP as described above. These include, for instance:
– Information Technology and Cybercrimes : These are covered under The Information Technology Act, 2000.
– Data Protection : Covered under The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018.
Besides, legislation such as Civil Procedure Code, Indian Evidence Act etc. are also used as and when needed.
Protection against unfair competition : While all of above categories of IP in one way or another aim to do precisely this, there are gaps in them that can be exploited. This category aims to plug such gaps. For instance, making false claims against a competitor or imitating a competitor when the competitor may not be protected by other categories of IP laws as summarized above falls in the purview of this category. Different provisions in different statutes could be used for the purpose, as per circumstances.
Competition per se is regulated in India by the Competition Act 2002 ( amended in 2007 and 2009) seeks to regulate competition in India. The intent is not to prohibit but encourage competition. The legislation prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position and regulates mergers, amalgamations and acquisitions.

As we delve deeper into IP and various laws protecting different types of IP, we see that at the heart of all such laws is the concept of ‘property’ and its ‘ownership’. Who owns a property ? How to declare such ownership ? What are its boundaries ? What about neighbor’s properties and their rights / obligations ? What if there are disputes ? What are the protections and penalties against unauthorized use of a property ? The whole gamut of Intellectual Property laws revolves around these only as common issues.

I hope you found above useful and interesting. Please comment herein on any type I might have missed out on, as well as any questions/ aspects you want covered in more detail. I will get to same by the by.

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