Intellectual Property! The concept seems to some individuals to represent an ambiguous abstraction. To others it represents incongruity. But for many, without a doubt, Intellectual Property (IP) is a potent tool. IP is an intangible asset and is a legal concept for which rights are recognised for the human mind’s creativity. Under this specialised law, owners are granted rights to diverse intangible assets such as inventions, words, phrases, symbols, designs, artistic works and such.
Intellectual Property is no longer seen as a self-reliant domain, but rather is viewed as an essential part of innovation-driven socio-economic development across the globe and is progressively becoming an effective policy instrument with respect to a range of technological, socio-economic and political concerns. Major IP domains are copyright, patents, utility, industrial design, trademark and trade secrets.
A brief on different IP domain areas has been illustrated above. Due to lack of proper awareness among the business community, many small and medium-sized enterprises lose millions of dollars in business each year. For example, while seeking patent protection for an invention, the criteria of patentability (i.e. novelty, non-obviousness and industrial applicability) must be satisfied.
However, quite often the Inventor(s) lose their right to file the patent as the invention has already been disclosed in the public domain via scientific journals/publications, authored by the Inventor(s) themselves. This is applicable to similar IP domains such as utility and design protection.
As forms of property, IP rights may be assigned, mortgaged or licensed and they may devolve by operation of law during the period of protection. It has to be comprehended that:
- Patents are granted for twenty years from the date of filing the invention,
- Utility and Industrial designs are granted for ten years from the date of filing the application,
- Trademark is granted for ten years from the date of filing the application which is renewable every ten years for a lifetime,
- An author’s economic rights (copyright) are protected throughout his lifetime and for seventy years beginning on the first day of the calendar year following the year of his death.
Within these stipulated exclusive periods offered to the right owner, the effort of human mind’s creativeness is being valued and in turn embolden innovation-driven economy.
IP protection increases innovation in any given country and innovations drive the economy. Intellectual property rights facilitate a free flow of information which leads to new and improved innovations on existing ones.