Posted in IP Law

Geographical Indications of goods in India: An insight

Creativity is the most productive and expensive fruit of human mind, thus every effort is being made to keep this fruit healthy and free from insects of plagiarism”

Geographical indication is one of the seven rights that are being conferred on the creators under Intellectual Property rights. Unlike other categories of IPR’s like Copyright, Trade marks, Industrial designs, Patents, Integrated circuits etc, Geographical Indications with its peculiar features is still in its nascent stage. A GI status is conferred on the goods originated from a particular region and possesses qualities, reputation or characteristics that are specifically attributable to that place of origin. In 1824, France became the first country to develop GI legislation to brand its wines and cheese. Some European countries also followed France example and in the year of 1994, TRIPS (Trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights) agreement under WTO gave a wide coverage to GIs and attracted maximum number of signatories including India. In 1999, Indian Parliament passed geographical indications of goods (Registration and protection) Act that came into effect in 2003.

After possessing GI Status, brand name of the product gets developed that give rise to prices, exports and also protects farmers/artisans against undue competition given by bogus products in the market. Darjeeling tea, Kanchipuram silk saree, Kohhlapari slippers, Meerut scissors are some of the examples of GIs in India. GI is not an exclusive right of the owner but collectively enjoyed by a group of producers, community or even by a nation. The term of a GI registration is ten years which can be renewed after the period of 10 years. Failure to renew the registration will lead to removal of GI sign from the register. Breach of GI right is a criminal offence in India attracting six months prison which may be extended to three years accompanied by fine. Being a cognizable offence, police may conduct search and seizure without any warrant. Thus it protects producer’s interest, boosts healthy competition in the market and safeguard consumers against misleading & bogus products. Present scenario has made it difficult to subscribe with Shakespeare who contemplate that what is there in name? For the sake of economic safety, legal blanket of GI rights is being circulated to keep the fruit of creativity fresh forever.

Country like India which is decorated with diverse culture, tradition and soil can be benefitted to a larger extent with the idea of GIs. No doubt, various challenges are still there which makes implementation of GIs a hard nut to crack. Thousands of goods will qualify for GIs by virtue of huge cultural, ethnic, social and food diversities. Producers of such products are small households and small units often in same area. Hence, it is often difficult to organise them into groups or communities and apply for a GI sign. People are not fully aware about this wonderful legal sword of intellectual property right which has marvellous potential to make their economic battle much easier and convenient.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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DEEPIKA SANGWAN

Deepika Sangwan is a second-year student at Army Institute of Law, Mohali. She is an Editor at college magazine ‘AILITE 2016-2017’. She believes that writing gives clarity & depth to one’s thoughts. Apart from decorating facts with reasoning, cycling is her favourite pass time.

Posted in Copyright, IP Law

Why Copyright Laws Vary

Whenever you write a song or a story, draw a picture, or create anything else and put it down on paper, build it, or play it, you automatically own the copyright to it, including literary, intellectual, musical, and other forms of art, software, films, photos, and more. The list of what is protected by copyright does vary from country to country, so if you are curious, check with your government’s copyright office.

Copyright gives you the ability to determine just what happens to that piece of work. Whether you want to distribute it, copy it, print it, sell it, or do anything else to it – including give the rights to it to someone else – you can, because it belongs to you for, usually, as long as you live, plus 70 years. That is why some works eventually, if the copyright is not transferred to someone else, are considered to be in the “public domain.”

“Congress shall have the Power . . . To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” – United States Constitution, Art. I, Section 8

History

In 1790, according to the United States Copyright Office, the constitution guaranteed that if a person created something, they held the rights to it, originally for 14 years. This was extended to 28 years in 1831. However, while an author, for example, can prevent others from using their exact words, they cannot prevent others from using an “idea, procedure, process, slogan, principle, or discovery.” As time went on, different provisions and time limits expanded the copyright laws.

In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Copyright Act of 1909. This act “granted protection to works published with a valid copyright notice affixed on copies. Accordingly, unpublished works were protected by state copyright law but published works without proper notice fell into the public domain.

The copyright term remained at 28 years with a renewal term of 28 years, but the author was granted the right to terminate any transfer of his copyright between the initial and renewal term.” This act also allowed for the reproduction of music and added a provision for motion pictures in 1912 which, until that time, had to be registered as a series of photos.

Of course, as the world and its technology have changed, so copyright law has had to change. In 1998, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act limited online infringement liability for online service providers.

Up until 1989, works had to have a valid copyright notice on them in order to be protected. However, works that are published after March 1, 1989 do not need to have a valid copyright notice in order to be protected, but it’s still advisable to have one. If a work has a notice on it, a person who has infringed, cannot claim that they didn’t know.

Copyright in Practice

What does a copyright notice look like? If you have written a blog, for example, in the footer, you should say Copyright © 2006 and your name or the owner of the published works. If you have created something, whether it’s an app or a novel, you should register the copyright. If your novel is being published by a publisher, they will likely do this for you, but you should check to be sure. Registering a copyright is easy. You need to fill out the proper forms, which are available at copyright.gov or by calling the U.S. Copyright Office at 202-707-9100. It currently costs $45 to register a work. You can register a group of works together and save money if need be.

So just how do you know when to register a copyright, and why should you care? Copyright law is important for even the small creations you make. What if you make a logo or poster for your business or team? Perhaps you spent a lot of time on it and are really proud of your design. What if, after unveiling this amazing design, another team or business decided to “borrow” your logo and use it for their t-shirts?

Not only would this be upsetting to you, but wouldn’t you feel as though you should be compensated or at least credited for the time and effort you put into the logo, especially if someone else is going to use it? Of course. And without copyright law, you wouldn’t necessarily be entitled to that compensation or credit.

On the other hand, some works are available to be used by the public at large because the copyright has expired. This is called being in the “public domain.” According to Stanford University, “All works published in the United States before 1923 are in the public domain.”
This includes:

  • “Works published after 1922, but before 1978 are protected for 95 years from the date of publication. If the work was created, but not published, before 1978, the copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. However, even if the author died over 70 years ago, the copyright in an unpublished work lasts until December 31, 2002.
  • “For works published after 1977, the copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. However, if the work is a work for hire (that is, the work is done in the course of employment or has been specifically commissioned) or is published anonymously or under a pseudonym, the copyright lasts between 95 and 120 years, depending on the date the work is published.
  • “Lastly, if the work was published between 1923 and 1963, you must check with the U.S. Copyright Office to see whether the copyright was properly renewed. If the author failed to renew the copyright, the work has fallen into the public domain and you may use it.”

If you are interested in a certain work, the renewal records for works since 1950 are available online at copyright.gov. The copyright office can conduct renewal searches for you, as well, for a fee.

Fair Use

There are provisions for “fair use,” where permission is not necessarily required from the author or creator of a work. In these cases, it has been determined by Congress that there are times when the need for the public to be informed is more important than the need of a creator to be compensated. In general, if you want to use someone else’s work in a small, non-competitive way to the benefit of the public, you are probably fine. Courts use these criteria, generally, to determine fair use:

  1. “Is it a competitive use? (In other words, if the use potentially affects the sales of the copied material, it’s usually not fair.)
  2. “How much material was taken compared to the entire work of which the material was a part? (The more someone takes, the less likely it is that the use is fair.)
  3. “How was the material used? Is it a transformative use? (If the material was used to help create something new it is more likely to be considered a fair use than if it is merely copied verbatim into another work. Criticism, comment, news reporting, research, scholarship and non-profit educational uses are most likely to be judged fair uses. Uses motivated primarily by a desire for a commercial gain are less likely to be fair use).”

Being sure to quote and credit an author when using their work to benefit another work is also necessary. When in doubt, if possible, track down the author and ask.

International

International copyrights are also a growing consideration in a world advancing technologically. The U.S. Office of Policy and International Affairs (PIA) attorneys have “substantial expertise in foreign copyright issues and international copyright treaty obligations.” They work on many copyright issues with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and in other areas. These attorneys serve on “U.S. government delegations for bilateral and regional trade agreements and copyright treaty negotiations between the United States and other countries.”

A number of different organizations work to solidify copyright law throughout the world. The World Intellectual Property Organization is a global organization of the United States with 189 member states and self-funded. The International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO) and the European Copyright Commission all work to protect international copyright laws. The Berne Convention is a treaty often referred to in international copyright. It was originally accepted in 1886 and mandates that all countries that sign treat the works of authors and creators in other countries at least as well as they treat their own. This treaty has been amended to include varying types of works over the years as well. The full text of the Berne Convention Treaty of 1971 is available online.

Summary

Copyright law may seem complex and even a little intimidating, but really, for the creator, it’s pretty simple. Register your work and you are protected. Even if you don’t register, you’re probably still protected. If in doubt about your own work or using the work of someone else, consult an attorney.



About the author

picture1Houston defense lawyer Greg Tsioros provides legal advice and aggressive representation for clients charged with misdemeanors and felonies at both the state and federal level. Read more about The Law Office of Greg Tsioros at www.txcrimdefense.com.

Posted in Constitution of India, Constitutional Law, IP Law

Constitutional Aspect of Intellectual Property Rights in India

This article has been written by Deepseng Shyam. Deepseng is currently a student in NLU Assam.

Intellectual Property and India has a good long history dating back to the ancient years of Indus Valley Civilization. Evidences show that in the Ancient Era, especially during the Indus Valley Civilization era, activities of town planning, entertainment industries, musical industry and others were highly prevailing and also trademarks have been also used to differentiate the products of the producers from one from another. If we take a look at the present scenario, Intellectual Property like trademarks, are used mainly by every market competitors to differentiate ones product from another. So it is safe to say that the idea to protect one’s product or service from another has been prevailing since the ancient times in India. Intellectual Property Law was first brought to mainstream in India by the British Empire by implementing the British Patent Act, 1852 when an applicant named George A. DePennings made the first application for a patent in India in the year of 1856, which subsequently gave effect in the making of the Act VI of 1856[1]. The recognition of Intellectual Property as a property by the Indian Constitution is vague and unambiguous. The Constitution of India does not openly declare an Intellectual Property as a property but at the same time it also does not reject the same.

The Indian constitution in its preamble permits mixed economy system and recognises the economic liberty as one of the most important liberty. This has been ensured through property system. If the term “property” used in the Indian Constitution is analysed it may mean any tangible property but it has a wider concept. Though, it absolutely includes intellectual property but indirectly. There was a time when “Right to Property” was a fundamental right enshrined in the Indian Constitution under Article 19 (f) but later it was substituted through the 44th amendment. However the substitution of Article 19 (f) didn’t mean the end of “Right to Property”, the insertion of another Article i.e. Article 300A through the 44th Amendment, changed it to a Constitutional right from fundamental right and due to this change any legislation violating the constitutional “Right to Property” could now be challenged only in High Courts and not directly in the Supreme Court. However, Intellectual Property as a form of property can be put under Article 300A dealing with property and be entitled to a legal right. Unlike the Indian Constitution, the United States Constitution specifically protects the Intellectual Property (Article 1(8) of the U.S. Constitutions which provides “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries”). However, there is no such Intellectual Property clause in the Indian Constitution. While this means that Intellectual Property does not have special Constitutional status, it also means that there are no Constitutional restrictions on the power to make laws on Intellectual Property. Article 300A of the Indian Constitution provides constitutional safeguards against unlawful deprivation of property it is Article 253 that plays an important role in the context of Intellectual Property Rights as it mandates the recognition of the international aspect of laws, legislations, and agreements and empowers the Indian parliament to enforce the international treaties through law making process. Certain provision in Article 372 also validates the pre-constitutional law subject to certain condition laid down in the provisions. For instance: Article 372 (1) states that: “Nothingwithstanding the repeal……………all the laws in force in the territory of India immediately before the commencement of this constitution shall continue in force therein until altered or repealed or amended by a competent legislature or other competent authority”.

Thus due to the presence of these Articles it became possible for the pre-constitutional Intellectual Property Rights laws to be in force in India and the adoption of various International treaties on Intellectual Property laws by the Indian legislation. For example, the repealing of 1911 Patent Act and the passage of new Patent Act, 1970 was due to Article 372 (1) of the Indian Constitution which authorizes the legislature or any competent body to repeal, alter or amend the pre-constitutional laws. Also, majority of the present Intellectual Property laws are influenced by the international laws, such as the present patent laws is the result of various international instrument like Budapest treaty, TRIPS agreement, UN convention on Biodiversity and others.

Article 31A protected the legislations providing for acquisition of estate or any right therein or their modification on the ground that it took away or abridged any of the rights conferred by Part III of the Constitution. Article 31B restricted the scope for challenge on the plea of violation of fundamental rights. Intellectual Property, in its literal sense, means the things manifested from the exercise of the human brain, a product emerging out of the Intellectual labour of a human being. The two chief items are the writings of authors, and inventions made by the inventors. In its broadest sense, the term “Intellectual Property” includes ideas, concepts know-how, and other creative abstractions, and also, the literary, artistic, or mechanical expressions that embody such abstractions.

The basic difference between this form of property and other forms is that, in Intellectual Property the focus is on the produce of the mind, and not on the product itself. For example, in literary property (copy right) it is not the book which is termed property, but the intellectual creation, which comprises ideas, conceptions, sentiments, thought etc, fixed in a particular form that is considered property for protection. Traditionally only a few items were included in the category of Intellectual Property. At present, generally copyright, designs, patents, and trade mark are classified as Intellectual Property. But by the development of arts, science and technology, many new items have been included in this category.

Further, the mention of Intellectual Property system in the Entries of the Indian Constitutional further provide us with clues that Intellectual Property is indeed recognized by the Indian Constitution. Entry 12, 13, 14 has been rightly included in the List 1 of the 7th Schedule of the Indian Constitution. Entry 49 of List I happens to be the specific one which has been totally and exclusively devoted to intellectual property system. Entry 49 recognizes only patents designs, copyright, trademarks and others. However, it does not recognize the concept of traditional knowledge, biodiversity, geographical indications and others but these categories of intellectual property rights can be included within the existing one. If we look into entry 97 of List I which read as follows “any other matter not enumerated in List II or List III including any tax not mentioned in either of those Lists” and Article 248 reads as “parliament has exclusive power to make any law with respect to any matter not enumerated in the concurrent List or State List”. Thus, it is safe to assume that Traditional knowledge can be included among other Intellectual Properties and are recognized by the Indian Constitution as Intellectual property.

Conclusion

The Constitution of India provides the necessary safeguard to protect the right to property in general and the agricultural property in particular[2].  For example, The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Right Act, 2001 is framed to make available a number of special safeguard measures to protect and promote the interests of the farmers in order to encourage the accelerated growth of the agricultural sector which will ultimately result into the overall growth of the Indian economy. Also the Biodiversity Act, 2002 is framed to provide safeguards to various biological resources like “plants, animals and micro-organisms and their genetic material and by-products (excluding value added products) with actual or potential use or value, but not human genetic material against being misused and other unfair commercial or non-commercial activities. In general it is enacted to protect against bio-piracy[3]. A case of such bio-piracy occurred when the US Patent Office granted the patent (Patent No. 5, 401 and 504) for turmeric to two expatriate Indians at University of Mississippi Medical Centre in 1995 which was subsequently challenged by the Indian Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on the ground of “prior art” or “existing public knowledge”[4]. Although, the CSIR won their battle, this incident shows how traditional knowledge is vulnerable to bio-piracy and thus the need to protect it has grown increasingly.

[1] History of Indian Patent System, available on the official website of Intellectual Property India.  Link: http://www.ipindia.nic.in/history-of-indian-patent-system.htm

[2] Article 300A and Article 31A.

[3] Section 2 of Bio-Diversity Act, 2002.

[4] Daima, Dinesh. “Class on Trade Mark Law and Traditional Knowledge”. National Law University, Assam, Guwahati. 5th November, 2016. Class Lecture.



The December book bucket

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