A Roadmap of Indian Intellectual Property Rights Developments

India over the years has risen up to realize the importance of one of it’s most neglected assets- Intangible property or securing the protection of Intellectual Property.  This neglected area has now finally picked up the pace and in this article we shall go through the legislation enacted that has made these developments possible.

From the outset, it is essential to point out that India ratified the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on the 1st January 1995. This agreement provided for norms and standards in respect of Patents, Copyrights, Trade Marks, Geographical Indications and Industrial Designs which have since been incorporated into the relevant legislation relating to Intellectual Property Rights.

The Patents Act, 1970

The word ‘invention’ and ‘new invention’ have been amended from time to time so as to maintain relevancy. Under the Act, an invention is patentable when there is an element of novelty, inventiveness, and usefulness. In accordance with the TRIPS Agreement a minimum protection term of 20 years is provided for such a patent. An amendment in 2005, increased the fields in which an invention may be patented

The Designs Act, 2000

The Act defines a ‘design’ as two-dimensional or three-dimensional features of shape, configuration, pattern applied to any article which appeals to and is judged solely by the eye. The 2000 Act brought in various changes to suit the scientific and informative age of the 21st Century.

Trademarks Act, 1999

The Act of 1999 widened the scope and purview of ‘trademark’ in India and made provisions for trademark registration in respect of services in addition to goods. In addition, statutory protection was extended to well-known trademarks.

On February 8, 2007, India ratified its accession to the Madrid Protocol, a system for international registration of trademarks. In accordance to this ratification, provisions relating to the international registration of trademarks were made. As a  consequence of the ratification, the discretion given to the registration of trademarks for a time extension in filing a notice of opposition for published applications was removed and a uniform time limit was provided.

The Copyright Act, 1957 and Copyright Rules, 1958

An essential feature of copyright law in India is that in order to secure a copyright, registration is not a mandatory requirement. Copyright registration only provides a rule of evidence. In other words, the copyright registration can be used as evidence which would contribute to the claim of rights during dispute resolution. A lack of registration, however, does not necessarily mean losing the security of a Copyright. Copyright protection is conferred on all original literary, artistic, musical or dramatic, cinematography and works of sound recording whether registered or not.


As India exists within the definition of a ‘developing country’ under the Berne Convention, it avails of certain exceptions under compulsory licensing for educational and research purposes.

The Geographical Indication of Goods Act, 1999

A geographical indication (GI) is an indication, whether in the form of a name or sign, used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possesses qualities or a reputation that are due to the place of origin. GIs have been used in India for a wide variety of products, such as Basmati Rice, Darjeeling Tea, Kangra Tea, Feni, Alphonso Mango, Alleppey Green Cardamom, Coorg Cardamom, Kanchipuram Silk Saree, Kohlapuri Chappal, Rasgulla etc.

By registering a geographical indication in India, the rights holder can prevent unauthorized use of the registered geographical indication by others by initiating infringement action by way of a civil suit or criminal complaint.

It is through these need-based legislation that India has been capable of achieving the great strides necessary to maintain innovation and development.

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