Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in India – Importance, Types, Concerns, Initiatives

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Creativity and innovation are the energy source that fuels the growth and development of any knowledge economy. The 21st century, particularly, belongs to the knowledge era and is driven by the knowledge economy. With rapid globalization and liberalization of trade, there has been an emergence of “Intellectual Capital” as a key wealth generator resulting in Intellectual property rights becoming an irreplaceable element.

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This topic of “Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in India – Importance, Types, Concerns, Initiatives” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

What is Intellectual Property?

World Intellectual Property Organization defines Intellectual property (IP) as creations of the mind. They may be inventions, literary and artistic works, designs and symbols, names and images used in commerce.

What is Intellectual Property Right?

Intellectual property rights (IPR) can be defined as the exclusive rights given to people, and protected by law, over the creation of their minds for a certain period of time.

IPR strikes the right balance between the interest of the innovators and the larger public interest in a way fostering the innovative spirit and making the innovation useful for the society.

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What are the types of Intellectual Property in India?


  • A patent is granted for an invention, a new product or process involving a novel step and capable in a commercial application.
  • Given for 20 years.
  • India followed a process patent regime for long before turning to product patent system for Food, chemicals and pharmaceuticals (2005 amendment to the Patents act).
    1. Department of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT)
    2. Office- Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks
    3. Act- The Patents Act, 1970 which was amended in 2005.


  • A design IPR refers to the features of shape, pattern, ornamentation, configuration, the composition of colour or line or a combination of above only, applied to any article, two or three dimensional or in both forms.
    1. Department of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade.
    2. Office-Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks
    3. Act- Designs Act, 2000


  • A trademark is a unique mark represented graphically and which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one producer from those of other producers.
  • Types- Shape of goods, graphic representation or packaging or sound, sign, drawings, pictures, emblem, words, letters, numbers, colours or combination of colours
  1. Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade
  2. Office-Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks
  3. Act- Trade Marks Act 1999 (as amended in 2010)


  • GI means any Indications which identify the goods as originating in a particular territory unique due to its climate, soil and native efforts.
  • They can be agricultural, natural or manufactured goods.
  • It is given for a period of 10 years in India.
  1. Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade
  2. Office- Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks
  3. Act- The Geographical Indications of Goods Act, 1999.


  • The people who create literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, producers of cinematograph films and also producers of sound recordings are given Copyright by the law. It includes the rights to reproduce, adapt and translate a work.
  • Department of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade
  • Office- Registrar of Copyrights
  • Act-The Copyright Act, 1957 revised in 2012 to conform to WIPO treaties on the Internet.


  • They are given for innovation in Integrated Circuit Layout-Designs.
  1. Department of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade
  2. Office- Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Registry
  3. Act- Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Act, 2000


  • Protection to the plant varieties, farmers’ and plant breeders’ rights to encourage the development of new varieties of plants.
  1. Ministry of Agriculture
  2. Concerned office- Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers’ Rights Authority
  3. Act- The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001

International cooperation

India is a member of the World Trade Organisation and abides by the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property.

India is a signatory to the following WIPO-administered International Treaties and Conventions relating to IPRs:

  • Budapest Treaty which deals with the International Recognition of the Deposit of Micro-organisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure
  • Paris Convention (the Protection of Industrial Property)
  • Berne Convention working in the field of the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
  • Patent Cooperation Treaty
  • Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement (the International Registration of Marks- Madrid Protocol)
  • Washington Treaty (for Intellectual Property in respect of Integrated Circuits)
  • Nairobi Treaty (the Protection of the Olympic Symbol)
  • Marrakesh Treaty which Facilitates Access to the published work to Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities
  • IN 2019, the Union Cabinet approved the proposal for Accession of India to the Nice, Vienna and Locarno Agreements, related to the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) international classification systems.

Why IPR is important?

  • Protection of innovative spirit
  1. It safeguards the hard-earned Intellectual property of an innovator.
  2. By protecting the legal rights of the true innovator, the IPR regime encourages innovation and creative excellence in the country.
  • Economic growth
  1. the knowledge economy is the catalyst of the nation. Driven under the robust IPR regime, the creative capabilities and innovation of the human resource can catapult the economic growth to newer heights.
  2. IPRs help creators and inventors to realize their potential for generating
    and utilizing a product of their unique ideas which would contribute to new business opportunities, employment generation and in the end wealth creation
  • Investment in Research and Development
  1. The transparent and strong IPR regime encourages investment in research and development.
  2. IPR protection assures the organisations to work towards innovative products
  3. India is in the need of newer and disruptive technologies in all areas including agriculture, water management, food processing, Urban issues, military, space technology, etc.
  • Balance between Individual/organizational zeal and societal benefits
  1. Inclusion of Compulsory licensing and negating evergreening of licences.
  2. India is a big market and leader in the generic Pharma sector.
  • Synergy

IPRs synergise the strengths of the Government, R&D organizations, educational institutions, MSMEs, start-ups in the creation of an innovation conducive environment for the overall economic development.

What are the problems with the IPR regime in India?

  • Legal issues
  1. Section 3(d) of the Indian Patent Act 1970

Disallows patents to new forms of a known substance without any therapeutic effects.

  1. Compulsory licencing

Concerns raised by the foreign investors who bring technology as they fear the misuse of CL to replicate their products. It has been impacting India-EU FTA negotiations.

  • Problems with International standards

We continue to remain on the ‘Priority Watch List’ of United States Trade Representative’s (USTR’s) for alleged violations of intellectual property rights (IPR). In consecutive Special 301 reports released by the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the concerns have been raised about the IPR regime with respect to enforcement and protection of the IPs.

  • Data Privacy

According to the foreign companies and investors, India does not care about commercial use of test data or other data submitted to the government during the application for market approval of pharmaceutical and agro-chemical products.

  • Enforcement of the Copyright act

The enforcement regime is weak, and the piracy of copyrighted materials is widespread. The least priority is given to adjudication of IP matters.

The main challenge is to train and sensitize the enforcement officials to take up IP matters, at the same footing as with other economic offences.

  • Lack of deliberative platforms

No established Platforms to bring the stakeholders on to a common platform for discussion for well-informed policy decisions in accordance with India’s needs.

What are the initiatives taken by the government?

A) The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL)

TKDL is a digital project between-

  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
  • Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
  • Ministry of Science and Technology and
  • Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH).

TKDL involves documentation and digitization of the traditional knowledge available in public domain from the literature related to Ayurveda, Unani, and Siddha, in five international languages- English, French, German, Spanish and Japanese

TKDL is an effective deterrent against biopiracy and is recognized as a global leader in the area of traditional knowledge protection.


  1. India Foiled Colgate-Palmolive bid to Patent Nutmeg Mouthwash.
  2. India won the Patent war on hair loss formula against Pangaea Laboratories Limited, a UK based company.
  3. Over 1500 yoga asanas are shortlisted to thwart patenting by foreign parties.

B) National IPR Policy

The National IPR policy was released in 2016 to guide future developments in the IPR regime in India. With the call of “Creative India, Innovative India” it creates a policy framework to bring all IPR related matters on a single platform.

  • Department of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce & Industry as the nodal department to coordinate the sector.
  • The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) under the DPIIT- single reference point for the implementation of the objectives of the policy.

The objectives are

  1. The IPR Awareness: Outreach and Promotion

Public awareness education about the socio-economic and cultural benefits of IPRs.

  1. Generation of IPRs

To increase the generation of IPRs through the ease of filing.

  1. Legal and Legislative Framework

To have strong and effective IPR laws balancing the interests between the rights owners and larger public interest.

  1. Administration and Management

To modernize and strengthen the IPR administration.

  1. Commercialization of IPRs

Get proper value for IPRs through their commercialization.

  1. Enforcement and Adjudication

To strengthen the enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms and combating IPR manipulations like plagiarism.

  1. Human Capital Development

To obtain skilled human resources, create institutions and capacities for teaching, training, research and skill building in IPRs.

C) The Union Budget 2020

A digital platform is set to be promoted to facilitate seamless application and capture of IPRs. Also, in an Institute of Excellence, a Centre would be established that would work on the complexity and innovation in the field of Intellectual Property.

How much Successful the IPR policy is?

  • Global rankings

India is continuing to improve its global ranking. In the last years’ global innovation index, we improved five places to 52nd (2019).

  • IPR filings (Report of 2017-18)
  1. The number of patent applications examined more than doubled (108.2% increase over the previous year).
  2. Grant of patents increased by 32.5% and disposal of applications increased by 57.6%.
  3. The filing of copyright applications has increased by 7.4% during the year.
  4. a total of 11837 design applications were filed showing a 15.9% increase over the last year.
  5. A total number of 25 Geographical Indications were registered.
  • Strengthening of Institutional Mechanism

simplified trademark procedures and removal of redundant resulted in a reduction of the number of Forms from 74 to 8

  • Creating IPR Awareness

Awareness creation in over 200 academic institutions through satellite communication. Awareness generation is done also for various stakeholders such as industry, police, customs, and judiciary.

  • IPRs in School Syllabus

The NCERT curriculum (Commerce stream) has included IPRs in its subjects.

  • Technology and Innovation Support Centres (TISCs)

6 TISCs have been formed in various institutions in the country.

Way forward

  • The IPR policy must be backed up with strong research and development infrastructure and the environment.
  • The issue of openness, sharing, and access to knowledge should be addressed as early as possible.
  • The innovation ecosystem including the Atal Innovation Mission, Start-up India must be carried forward.
  • The skilled manpower shortage for administrative work of the IPR regime must be improved.
  • The awareness generation should go beyond formal institutions like schools and colleges. A lot of innovation happens in the rural and tribal sectors. They must be educated.
  • Special courts for IPR adjudications must be set up in important innovation hubs.

Practice Question for Mains

What are Intellectual property rights? Discuss the implementation of the National IPR policy, 2016. (250 words)

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