by Advocate Amir Ali
In today’s world, it is hard to imagine any business venture or a commercial enterprise that does not possess one or another form of “Intellectual Property”. For an ordinary businessman, the term “Intellectual Property” has probably been one of the most misunderstood terms of law and business both in terms of appreciating the concepts which it stands for and in terms of its importance to the growth, progress and continued success of any business.
Intellectual Property rights broadly include patents, designs, registered and unregistered trademarks and service marks, confidential information, registered and unregistered copyrights. Briefly stated, patents protect innovative ideas/inventions for commercial and industrial exploitation; designs protect the form, appearance and ornamental features of articles; trademarks and service marks, protect names, logos and emblems used to identify, businesses, products and services; confidential information protects trade secrets; copyrights protect artistic and literary works including books, novels, plays, songs, sound recording, computer programs etc.
To understand the above aspects of Intellectual Property rights, let us consider the example of a mobile phone. The brand with which the mobile phone is known serves as a trademark. The shape and distinctive features of the design of the mobile phone are protected by design law. The internal circuits, the technology behind reception of telephone signals etc. is the subject of a patent. The User’s Manual which lists all the
features of the mobile phone is in literal sense a ‘literary work’ and is the subject of a copyright. Therefore it is easy to understand that all the forms of Intellectual Property may be found in one article and the creation of each of these forms has invariably come about after some sort of intellectual process (Edison’s “thought”) and Intellectual Property laws are designed to protect and reward the “intellectual” for his unique and innovative “thought”.
Therefore the importance of Intellectual Property to any business cannot be overstated. Ironically, despite the importance that Intellectual Property law has for business, it is rarely taught to those studying law, business, science and technology or creative arts. As a result, many of those who are involved in creating and using Intellectual Property, the artists, scientists, engineers and businessmen, are often ignorant of what their Intellectual Property rights are, what they protect, what their commercial value is and how they can be used and exploited. By teaching, I do not mean that students should be taught all the laws, but these students who are the creators, inventors and entrepreneurs of the future should be made aware of what rights they have in “their” Intellectual Property and how they can exploit them to the best of their advantage.
Like any other property, Intellectual Property too can be owned, possessed, sold, purchased, licensed etc. Just as an owner of a house can stop anyone else who enters his house and uses its utilities without the owner’s permission, similarly the owner of an Intellectual Property right such as a brand name/trademark enjoys the legal right to prevent others from unauthorized copying or imitation of his trademark..
The contributor is an experienced lawyer working on intellectual property rights, frenchising and licensing. He is member of various national and international lawyer bodies. He belongs to Gulmit, Gojal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org