Intellectual Property [IP] refers to creations of the mind, which include, but not limited to inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. In general, IP is divided into two categories: Industrial Property includes patents for inventions, trademarks, industrial designs and geographical indications; and Copyrights which are creations related to literature, such as manuscripts, novels, etc., and fine arts, such as plays, films, and the like.
The importance of protection of IP through IP Rights was first recognized in the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883) and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886). Both treaties were administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
There are several compelling reasons to promote and protect IP through efficient and equitable IP system:
- legal protection of new creations encourages the commitment of additional resources for further innovation,
- spurs economic growth, creates new jobs and industries, and enhances the quality and enjoyment of life,
- progress and well-being of humanity rest on its capacity to create and invent new works in the areas of technology and culture,
- strike a balance between the interests of innovators and the public interest, providing an environment in which creativity and invention can flourish, for the benefit of all, and
- realize intellectual property’s potential as a catalyst for economic development and social and cultural well-being
The WIPO in 1967 provided the following list of subject matter protected by intellectual property rights: literary, artistic and scientific works; performances of performing artists, phonograms, and broadcasts; inventions in all fields of human endeavor; scientific discoveries; industrial designs; trademarks, service marks, and commercial names and designations; protection against unfair competition; and “all other rights resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields.”
Current Scenario In India
The Sovereign Republic of India is a signed full designatory of WIPO and World Trade Organization (WTO) and has been streamlined with and is at par with the current norms and regulations of IP as of December 1995. As a result, India enjoys the IP rights – protection and preservation – as every other country that is designatory to the WIPO and WTO. The scientific works and discoveries, i.e., IP, realized in India can be and will be protected through grant of patents, copyrights and trademarks as appropriate and will be honored across the registered members of the WIPO and WTO. By the same token, being a full signed designated member of the WIPO and WTO, India has committed to honor the IP rights, i.e., patents, trademarks and copyrights granted worldwide along with their protection and preservation.
The industrial sector, including the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector in India is yet to recognize the full potential of the IP rights in all its dimensions – from generation to preservation and protection. The pharmaceutical community including the healthcare community – academia and industry – have a very limited understanding IP and the rights associated with them. As a result, such an understanding through opinions are often sought by IP consults and consultations overseas. Such exercises are not only expensive but also neither timely nor completely effective as the nature, scope and potential utility(ies) of scientific works and discovery keep on changing.
The industrial and the academic sectors in India are yet to recognize the full potential of the IP rights in all its dimensions – from generation to preservation and protection. The academia and industry have a very limited understanding of IP and the rights associated with them. The healthcare academia and industry have no formal training that is provided in academic programs at undergraduate and extremely limited at post-graduate levels. Additionally, the scientists/professional who are engaged in generating scientific works leading to IP have limited to no understanding of IP rights let alone their protection and preservation.