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Patents, Copyrights, Designs, Trade Secret and Geographical Indications

  • Patents are granted for various kinds of inventions, which fulfill the patentability criteria of novelty, non-obviousness (inventive step), and industrial applicability

  • Copyright exists in original artistic and literary creations

  • Trademark rights exist for visual symbols including a label or a logo by which the buyers can identify the goods/services of a particular seller/service provider

Originally, only patents, trademarks, and Industrial designs were protected as ‘Industrial Property’, but now the term “Intellectual Property” has a much wider meaning.



Copyright is awarded to literary, dramatic, audiovisual, and similar works. Computer programs and databases are considered literary works and hence are protected by copyright in India; in fact, these are also considered copyrightable items under TRIPS. It may be noted that copyright protection is kept. As violation of copyright is a cognizable offense, the matter can be reported to a police station. It is advised that registration of copyright in India would help in establishing the ownership of the work.



A patent is an exclusive right granted by a country to the owner of an invention to make, use, manufacture and market the invention, provided the invention satisfies certain conditions stipulated in the law. A patent is awarded for an invention, which satisfies the criteria of global novelty, non-obviousness, and industrial application. Patents can be granted for products and processes. The term of a patent is 20 years from the date of filing a patent application. It now invite heavy penalty including fine and imprisonment.


Trade Secrets

Undisclosed information, generally known as trade secret / confidential information, includes formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, and method, and extends to an expression of an idea but not to the idea itself. To get protection, the work should be in a tangible form, which means in a form that is capable of either visually or audibly recreating the representation of the original work. Copyright gives protection for the expression of an idea and not for the idea itself. For example, many authors write textbooks on physics possible to get a product patent in all areas of technology. Trade secrets are protected under the Contract Act of 1872.

Industrial Design

"Design" means only the features of shape, configuration, pattern, ornament, or composition of lines or colors applied to any article - whether in two dimensional or three dimensional or in both forms - by any industrial process or means, whether manual, mechanical or chemical, separate or combined, which in the finished article appeal to and are judged solely by the eye. Industrial design is connected with the protection of the external shape, appearance, and configuration of an article. Protection of IC layout design is associated with the protection of mask designs in integrated circuits.

If you have a good design that gives you an advantage, then you must have a system to protect its technique or process. Protection of undisclosed information is least known to players of IPR and also least talked about, although it is perhaps the most important form of protection for industries, R&D institutions, and other agencies dealing with IPRs.

Protection of undisclosed information/trade secret is not covering various aspects like mechanics, heat, optics, etc. but each author will have a copyright on the book written by him/her, provided the book is not a copy of some other book published earlier.

The moment an original work is created, the creator starts enjoying the copyright. However, an undisputable record of the date on which a work was created must be featured otherwise there would be a wide-scale imitation. The important purpose of design registration is to see that the artisan, creator, or originator of a design having an aesthetic look, is not deprived of his bonafide reward due to others applying the same look to their goods.

Geographical Indication

A geographical indication is a name granted by the State to a product, natural or man made, identifiable with a specific geographical location for the uniqueness of the product. Once a geographical indication has been granted to a product then no similar or identical product made / produced elsewhere can be sold under that geographical indication. As per the Indian law, violation of geographical indication would really new to humanity at every stage of development people have evolved methods to keep important information secret, commonly by restricting the knowledge to their family members.

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