The term Intellectual Property refers to creations of human mind. Intellectual Property Rights protect the interests of creators by giving them proprietary rights over their creations. Intellectual Property relates to items of information or knowledge, which can be incorporated in tangible objects at the same time in an unlimited number of copies, at different locations anywhere in the world. The property is not in those copies but in the information or knowledge reflected in them. (Idris, 2002)
Intellectual Property Rights are also characterized by certain limitations, such as limited duration in the case of Copyright and Patents. Countries generally have laws to protect Intellectual Property for two main reasons. One is to give statutory expression to the moral and economic rights of creators in their creations and to the rights of the public in accessing those creations. The second is to promote creativity and dissemination, and application of its results, and to encourage fair trade, which would contribute to economic and social development. (WIPO, 2004)
The importance of protecting Intellectual Property was first recognized in the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property in 1883, and Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works in 1886. Both treaties are administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). WIPO divides Intellectual Property into two branches:
- Industrial property – this category includes inventions, industrial designs, integrated circuits, trademarks and geographical indications and
- Copyrights – this category applies to books, poems, plays, films, musical words, drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs and architectural designs.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) states that, ‘the reduction of distortions and impediments to international trade, promotion of effective and adequate protection of Intellectual Property Rights, and ensuring that the measures and procedures to enforce Intellectual Property Rights do not themselves become barriers to legitimate trade’ as its primary goals. Thus the WTO has gone a step further in elevating the importance of Intellectual Property, by advocating standards and strong protection systems with strict enforcement in an endeavor to promote International Trade. Apart from the forms of Intellectual Property recognized by WIPO, the WTO includes the protection of Undisclosed Information and the control of Anticompetitive Practices in Contractual Licensing under its Agreement on Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs). Regardless of the number of elements they are categorized, the big three of the Intellectual Property world are Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights.
Types of Intellectual Property:
Intellectual Property is also referred to as ‘Information with Commercial Value’. Though Intellectual Property refers to creations of human mind, the commercial value of resultant products is a pre-condition to be termed as Intellectual Property (Sivakoumar, 2006). The types of Intellectual Property recognized by the TRIPS Agreement are as follows:
Patent: A patent is a time-limited, exclusive right that is granted for an invention. This invention may be a new product or process, and the patent protects the owner/inventor from others who may attempt to make, use, distribute or sell the invention without the patent owner’s consent. Patent protection is generally limited to a period of 20 years. Patents provide the owners with the rights to decide over the use of the patent, by permission, licensing agreements, or other terms. Patent owners may also sell the rights to their invention to another party, which would also include the patent rights. Once a patent expires, the invention enters the public domain and may be used by anyone who may wish to exploit it commercially.
Trademark: A trademark is a distinctive sign that indicates that specific goods or a service is produced or provided by a specific person, group, or business. Trademarks may take many forms, including combinations of words, letters, and numerals, as well as drawings or symbols. Trademarks are applied to the shapes of packaging of various goods, as well as music or vocal sounds, and fragrances used as distinguishing features. Even a colour or colours that are considered distinguishing features can be trademarked.
Trademarks identify ownership and rights of the commercial source of a product or service. They protect the owner by ensuring an exclusive right to use or by allowing the trademark owner to authorize use by another party for payment. Like patents, trademarks are protected for a set period of time that varies under different legal systems. Unlike patents, trademarks can be renewed indefinitely if the owner is willing to pay for the renewal. The main value of a trademark is to offer an individual or a company an opportunity to develop a distinct and unique public signature that assists in building credibility and recognition. In turn, this promotes the individuals’ or businesses’ financial goals. Protection of Trademarks is enforced by the courts in most of the national Intellectual Property systems. As a result, trademark protection can hinder unfair competition from rivals offering imitation goods and services under a name or image that is identical or too similar to be coincidental.
Copyright: Copyright is the right given to creators for their literary or artistic works. According to WIPO, copyright encompasses works such as, books (both fiction and non-fiction), poems, plays, reference works, newspapers, computer programs, databases, films, musical compositions, choreography, paintings, drawings, photographs, sculpture, architecture, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.
The TRIPS agreement includes Article 10, which is concerned specifically with computer programs and complications of data, as well as Article 11, which addresses the rights of authors or their successors in title to authorize or prohibit the commercial rental of their Copyright works. Copyright does not include ideas, processes or procedures, mathematical concepts, or methods of operation. The protection offered by Copyright is for the expression only.
The goal of copyright is to prevent the unauthorized use or piracy of any literary or artistic work by a third party. Copyright is not infinite. Over the years, it has expanded to cover the length of the creator’s life and an additional 50 years for signatories of the WIPO treaties relating to Copyright.
Geographical Indications: According to WIPO, a Geographical Indication generally consists of the name of the place or origin of goods in order to emphasize certain positive qualities or reputation. A Geographical Indication often takes the form of a sign or label attached to or associated with the goods. Swiss watches and knives. Maple syrup from Quebec or Vermont, or Cuban cigars may all constitute Geographical Indications because the quality and reputation of the product is directly related to where the product originates. And it is important that the line between the product and its place of origin be maintained.
For example, a Bordeaux wine is a Bordeaux wine only if it was produced in the Bordeaux region of France. The use of this name on any other wine is quite likely unauthorized and misrepresents the product. This type of Geographical Indication is called an ‘appellation of origin’.
Geographical Indications are protected primarily by national laws, and often fall under the umbrella of consumer protection or unfair competition regulations. Internationally, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration are invoked to protect Geographical Indications among signatories. In addition, the TRIPS agreement includes three articles that address the international protection of Geographical Indications within policies and rules established by the WTO.
Industrial Designs: It is a form of Intellectual Property protection for the aesthetic features of the article that makes it desirable to consumers in contrast to the technical features of an innovative design. In other words, it is based solely on visual appeal.
Industrial Designs are generally protected in the countries in which they are issued for a period of five years. Under the TRIPS agreement, member-states must offer protection for Industrial Designs for a minimum of 10 years. In many countries, the applicant can renew the protection, usually to a maximum of 15 years.
Trade Secrets: Trade Secrets can be anything, including herbs and spices and combinations of chemicals. Trade Secrets can also be confidential documents relating to pricing strategies or marketing methods. The common denominator is that the information has commercial value because it is secret and the company or individual with the information has taken steps to keep it secret. Therefore Trade Secrets are confidential business information considered as most valued asset of an enterprise. Such information is protected as Intellectual Property under the TRIPS agreement.
For citing this article, use:
- Kavida, V. (2007). Valuation of intellectual property assets a case study of pharmaceutical industry.