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The article gives an overview of the various laws dealing with innovation and intellectual property rights in India. The article covers laws of patents, copyrights, trademarks, designs, and remedies for infringements of these rights, also it answers questions related to intersection of these rights.  Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are legal rights which govern the usage of creative ideas of the human mind like inventions, literary or artistic work, images, symbols, etc. Due to the rapid globalisation of the Indian economy, the country has made its mark in international trade. India gave its consent to the agreement for establishing the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Indian Statutes, enforcement provisions and methods of dispute resolution with respect to intellectual property (IP) protection are now fully TRIPS-compliant.  

Types of Intellectual Property Rights are discussed in detail below:

  1. Trademarks
  2. Patents
  3. Copyrights
  4. Industrial Designs
  5. Geographical Indications


Indian Trademark law is well developed and expressed, it grants entitlement to its proprietor only if the mark is “unique”. It is a distinctive sign which identifies the origin of a product or a service, for instance, it can be name, symbol, logo etc. A Trademark tells the difference between one firm from the others. Basically, it represents the value of goodwill associated with the goods and its specific source. In the absence of identification marks the customers would face difficulty to identify products with desirable attributes quickly.

Under the Trade Marks Act, infringement of a trademark is a violation of the exclusive rights granted to the registered owner to use the same. Passing off is a common law tort used to enforce unregistered trademark rights and it occurs where the reputation of one party is misappropriated by the other. Relief granted by a court includes a permanent or interim injunction, damages, and cost of the legal proceedings.


A patent is an exclusive right to an invention that introduces a new solution or technique or idea of a new process. The registered owner only is entitled to commercially use, manufacture, distribute or sell it. Patents are usually granted for a period of 20 years.  The technology that powers self-driving cars is an example of a patented invention.


Copyright is applicable to certain forms of creative work which may include literary, dramatic and musical or artistic work. These rights frequently include reproduction, control over imitative works, distributions, public performances and moral rights such as attribution. Copyright subsists for a variety of lengths and its length depends upon several factors like type of work, created by an individual or a corporation. The Copyright Act, 1957 governs the subject of copyright law in India and it provides three kinds of remedies against copyright infringement – administrative remedies, civil remedies, and criminal remedies. The administrative remedies provide detention of infringing goods by the customs authorities, whereas the civil remedies provided include an injunction, damages, and account of profits. The criminal remedies provided against copyright infringement include imprisonment up to 3 years along with fine up to Rs. 2,00,000.


An industrial design is what makes a product look outstanding and attractive. Industrial design protection is provided for a shape, configuration, surface pattern, colour, or line which enhance the visual appearance of the design (can be two dimensional or three dimensional). Protection rights under the Design Act 2000 are provided for a period of 10 years and it can be renewed once for an additional period of five years.


A Geographical indication is a kind of a name or sign used on certain products which depict to a specific geographical location or origin. The geographical indication has to indicate that a product of a particular origin has a certain quality or reputation or some other characteristics which are essentially attributable to its geographical origin. Some examples of geographical indication are Basmati Rice, Darjeeling tea, Alphanso Mango, Kohlapuri Chappal, Agra peetha etc. The registration of a geographical indication shall be for a period of ten years and shall be renewed for a period of another ten years.


The laws related to Intellectual Property Rights seen a rapid change over the last decade. In today’s scenario, there is great awareness amongst society. The remedies to be granted for infringement of IP rights is a particularly significant example of courts attempting to strike an appropriate balance between the protection of IPR rights of the holder and the larger interests of the public.

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Category Intellectual Property Rights, Other Articles by - Rashi Chandok