India: An Insight on Copyright, Geographical Indications and Confidential Information Laws in India

Last Updated: 7 September 2004
Article by Rajkumar Dubey


The Legislation

The provisions pertaining to Copyrights and their protection in India are governed by the Copyright Act, 1957. Copyright exists in expression of an idea and it is not a right in the novelty of an idea. Copyright protects skill, labour and capital employed by the author. Its object is to protect the writer and author from the unlawful reproduction, plagiarism, piracy, copying and imitation. Violation of the copyright is confined to the form, manner, arrangement and expression of the idea by the author. Copyright is defined to mean the exclusive right to do or authorise other(s) to do certain acts in relation to – literary, dramatic or musical works, artistic works, cinematograph film and sound recording.

Works in which Copyright Subsists

Copyright subsists throughout India in the following classes of works:

  • original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works;
  • cinematograph film; and
  • sound recording.

In respect of copyright, the word ‘original’ does not mean that the work must be the expression of the original or inventive thought. The Act does not require that the expression must be in an original or novel form, but the work must not be copied from another work and it should originate from the author. The expenditure of original skill or labour is required in executing a work and not in the originality of thought. The term ‘literary work’ includes computer programmes, tables and compilations including computer databases.

Computer Programmes – Patent or Copyright

Presently, computer softwares are protected under Copyrights Act, 1957, in India. This is confined only to its form and expression. The Present Copyright Act provides protection against piracy of softwares. Patent gives much better protection to an invention or new idea. Many leading companies file for patent application in addition to filing for copyright protection on the same work.

Steps Involved In Registration

Registration is prima facie evidence in favour of a person claiming copyright. Though this can be challenged, but if the stakes are high, it is always advisable to register a copyright for better protection.

Steps for registering a copyright in India:

  1. Application for registration is made in Form IV in triplicate to the Registrar of Copyright.
  2. In respect of artistic work which is used or is capable of being used in relation to any goods, the application should include a statement to that effect and should be accompanied by a certificate from the Registrar of Trademarks to the effect that no trade mark identical with or deceptively similar to such artistic work has been registered or application for registration has been made for such a mark.
  3. There should be one application for one work only and should be accompanied with fees prescribed as per Copyright Rules, 1958. The fees vary depending on the work.
  4. Applicant shall simultaneously send copy of the application to every person interested in the copyright of the work (e.g. publisher, co-author etc.)
  5. If the Registrar of Copyrights receives no objection to such registration within 30 days of the receipt of the application by him, he shall, if satisfied about the correctness of the particulars given in the application, enter such particulars in the Register of Copyrights.
  6. After receipt of the objections and if not satisfied with the correctness of the particulars given in the application, if any, Registrar may make such enquiry as he may deem fit. After the Registrar is satisfied, entry will be made by him in the Register of Copyright and copies of the same shall be sent to all the concerned parties.

Duration of Copyright

The term of copyright in published literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work (other than a photograph) is the life time of the author plus sixty years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the author dies. In case of joint authorship, the period of sixty years shall commence after the death of the author who dies last.

Protection available to the Copyright Owners

A copyright owner has the exclusive right to do or authorize any other person to do the following:

  1. in case of literary, dramatic or musical work, not being a computer program: to reproduce the work in any material form including the storing of it in any medium by electronic means; to issue copies of the work to the public not being copies already in circulation; to perform the work in public or communicate it to the public; to make any cinematograph film or sound recording in respect of the work; to make any translation and adaptation of the work; to do, in relation to a translation or an adaptation of the work any of the aforesaid acts.
  2. In case of computer program: to do any of the acts mentioned in clause (a); to sell or give on hire, or offer for sale or hire any copy of the computer program, regardless of whether such copy has been sold or given on hire on earlier occasions.
  3. In case of artistic work: to reproduce the work in any material form to communicate the work to the public; to issue copies of the work to the public not being copies already in circulation; to include the work in any cinematograph film; to make any adaptation of the work; to do in relation to the adaptation of the work any of the aforesaid acts.
  4. In respect of cinematograph film: to make copy of the film including a photograph of any image forming part thereof; to sell or giving it on hire, or offer for sale or hire of any copy of the film, regardless of whether such copy has already been sold or given on hire on earlier occasion and to communicate the film to the public.
  5. In respect of sound recording: to make any other sound recording embodying it; to sell or give on hire, or offer for sale or hire any copy of the sound recording regardless of whether such copy has been sold or given on hire on earlier occasion and to communicate the sound recording to the public.

Assignment of Copyright

The owner of a copyright can assign the copyright to a work. Such assignment can be absolute or partial subject to limitations and either for a limited period or for the full term of the copyright.

Even the rights of future works could be assigned by a prospective owner, but the assignment in that case shall become effective only when the work comes into existence. However,

  1. there is no prescribed form for assignment of copyright;
  2. assignment must be in writing duly signed by the assignor or his authorised agent;
  3. the assignment must specify details of the work being assigned, rights assigned, duration and territorial extent of assignment;
  4. if the period of assignment is not specified, it is presumed to be 5 years. If territorial extent is not specified, it is presumed to extend to throughout India.
  5. amount of royalty payable to assignor or his heirs should also be specified.

If the assignee does not make use of the rights assigned to him within a period of one year from the date of assignment, the assignment will be deemed to have lapsed, unless otherwise specified in the agreement.

Licensing of Copyrights

Owner of a copyright can grant interest in his right by licence in writing to another person. Licence relating to future work can also be granted, but in that case the licence takes effect only when the work comes into existence. The license must be in writing and should be signed either by the owner himself or by his authorised agent.

A licence deed in relation to work should contain the following particulars-

  1. identification of work;
  2. duration of licence
  3. the right licenced;
  4. territorial extent of licence;
  5. quantum of royalty payable; and
  6. the terms regarding revision, extension and termination.

Provisions as applicable to assignment i.e. period, territorial assignment, resolution of dispute by Copyright Board are also applicable to license.

There are different kinds of licenses. A license may be exclusive or non-exclusive, it may be granted by the Copyright Board as a compulsory licence and may be limited to a specified period of time.

Copyright Rules, 1958 prescribe the procedure for making an application to the Copyright Board for obtaining licences and the manner of determining royalties under the following provisions of the Copyright Act, 1957 in India:

  1. Compulsory licence in works withheld from public (Section 31): If the owner does not grant permission for republication, performance or communication to public, Copyright Board can direct Registrar of Copyrights to grant compulsory licence to complainant on such terms and conditions as it deems fit.
  2. Compulsory licence in unpublished Indian works (Section 31A)
  3. Licence to produce and publish translations (Section 32)
  4. Licence to reproduce and publish works for certain purposes (Section 32A): This is a licence to reproduce cheap edition or out of print work.

Provision with respect to foreign work

Provisions in respect of licence to produce and publish translation of a literary work for educational purposes are available for both Indian and foreign work, as the Act does not make any distinction between Indian work and foreign work. The only differences are as follows:

  1. Permission for translation is normally available for educational purposes after a period of three years. However, if the work is in language other than language of developed countries i.e. in other than English, French, German, Japanese, Spanish etc., the permission can be granted after one year.
  2. If the licence to produce translation is in respect of foreign work, it shall be subject to condition that the copy is available for distribution in India and cannot be exported outside India.
  3. Government or any of its authority can however export such translation of foreign work, if it is in a language other than English, French or Spanish. Such export can be for use of citizen of India residing out of India or for educational or research work.

Further, central government, by notification, can extend provisions of the Act to work published out of India or to unpublished work made out of India or work of a foreign author who has died. Such extension can be made only in respect of countries, which grant similar protection to work made in India. The order of Central Government can provide extension of Act to only specified class of works or restricts terms of copyright, conditions of enjoying the right etc.

Protection available from Infringement

Following amounts to infringement of a copyright:

  1. doing anything without licence for which the owner of copyright has exclusive rights,
  2. permitting for profit without licence any place to be used for the communication of the work to the public where such communication constitutes an infringement of the copyright in the work (unless he was aware that there is any infringement of the right-the burden of proof is on him),
  3. making for sale or hire, selling or offering for sale or hire, distributing, exhibiting in public or importing into India any infringing copy of the work.

In case of infringement, the Copyright Act, 1957 provides for both civil as well as criminal remedies. Civil remedies available to the owner of a copyright against infringement include injunction, damages or share of profits, delivery of infringing copies and damages for conversion. The Act also provides for punishment by criminal courts for criminal offences. Further, police officers are empowered to seize all copies of the work and all plates used for making infringing copies of work without warrant.



India has a rich heritage of products originating from specific regions that are nurtured by knowledge and tradition built up by communities over the years.

International Framework

A number of treaties administered by the WIPO provide for the protection of geographical indications, most notably the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property of 1883, and the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and Their International Registration. In addition, Articles 22 to 24 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights deal with the international protection of geographical indications within the framework of the World Trade Organization.

The Legislative Framework

The Geographical Indication Act 2001, in India defines a geographical indication as: "an indication which identifies such goods as agricultural goods, natural goods or manufactured goods as originating, or manufactured in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of such goods is essentially attributable to its geographical origin and in case where such goods are manufactured goods one of the activities of either the production or of processing or preparation of the goods concerned takes place in such territory, region or locality, as the case may be."

Who Can Apply

Any association of persons, producers, organisation or authority established by or under the law could apply for an geographical indication provided that:

  1. the application should be in writing in the prescribed form along with the prescribed fee
  2. the applicant must represent the interest of the producers

Steps Involved In Registration

"An application for registration of a geographical indication is to be made in writing using a replica of the official application Form GI-1 for the registration of a Geographical Indication in Part A of the Register by an Indian applicant; Form GI-2 for a convention application; an application for goods falling in different classes by an Indian applicant in Form GI-3 and an application for registration of goods falling in different classes from a convention country in Form GI-4 along with prescribed fee and should be addressed to the "Registrar of Geographical Indications",

The application should include the various requirements and criteria for processing a geographical application as specified in Rule 32(1) which details interalia:

  1. (How the indication serves to designate the goods as a Geographical Indication?
  2. The Class of goods;
  3. The territory ;
  4. The particulars of appearance ;
  5. Particulars of producers;
  6. An affidavit of how the applicant claim to represent the interest;
  7. The standard bench mark or other characteristics of the geographical indication;
  8. The particulars of special characteristics;
  9. Textual description of the proposed boundary;
  10. The growth attributes in relation to the G.I. pertinent to the application;
  11. Certified copies of the map of the territory
  12. Special human skill involved, if any;
  13. Number of producers; and
  14. Particulars of inspection structures, if any, to regulate the use of geographical indication. 

On receipt of the application, a number will be allotted by the Registrar.   Thereafter, the application would be examined to check whether it meets the requirements of the Act and Rules.  For this purpose the Registrar shall ordinarily constitute a Consultative Group of experts to ascertain the correctness of the particulars furnished.  Thereafter an Examination Report is issued by the Registrar to the applicant. The applicant is then required to submit the reply to the Examination Report and the clarifications provided therein is considered by the Registrar.   If no objections is raised it would be accepted and would be advertised in the Geographical Indications Journal.  An opposition could be lodged within a maximum period of four months.

After a geographical indication is registered any person claiming to be the producer of the registered geographical indication can file an application for registration as an authorised user in Part B of the Register.  The procedure for registration as an authorised user is similar to that for the registration of a geographical indication. 

Protection available to registered Geographical Indication

Geographical indications are protected in accordance with national laws and under a wide range of concepts, such as laws against unfair competition, consumer protection laws, laws for the protection of certification marks or special laws for the protection of geographical indications or appellations of origin. In essence, unauthorized parties may not use geographical indications if such use is likely to mislead the public as to the true origin of the product. Applicable sanctions range from court injunctions preventing the unauthorized use to the payment of damages and fines or, in serious cases, imprisonment.


  • It confers legal protection to Geographical Indications in India
  • Prevents unauthorised use of a Registered Geographical Indication by others
  • It provides legal protection to Indian Geographical Indications which in turn boost exports.
  • It promotes economic prosperity of producers of goods produced in a geographical territory.

Assignment and Transmission

A geographical indication is a public property belonging to the producers of the concerned goods hence assignment, transmission, licensing, pledge or mortgage are not permissible.

Duration of A Geographical Indication

The registration of a geographical indication is valid for a period of 10 years and It can be renewed from time to time for a further period of 10 years each.


Confidential Information is generally information, which is the object of an obligation of confidence and is used to cover all information of a confidential character. This includes:

  1. Trade secrets,
  2. Literary and artistic secrets,
  3. Personal secrets,
  4. Public and Government Secrets.

In case of confidential information relating to trade secrets,

  1. the information must be such that the owner must believe that the release of which would be injurious to the owner or advantageous to his rivals or others,
  2. the owner, must believe that the information is confidential and secret,
  3. the owner’s belief on the above points must be reasonable,
  4. the information must be judged in the light of the usage and practices of the particular industry or trade concerned.

Know-how generally indicates something essentially different from secret and confidential information. It indicates the way in which a skilled man does his job, and is an expression of his skill and experience.

Generally breach of confidence is not applicable in case of know-how, however it is applicable in case of trade secrets.

Three elements essential to a cause of action for breach of confidence are:

  1. that the information was of a confidential nature,
  2. that it was communicated in circumstances importing an obligation of confidence, and
  3. that there was an unauthorized use of the information. [1977 FSR 260]


Under Article 34 of the TRIPS agreement, every member country must enact legislation for the protection of confidential information. Though India is yet to enact any such legislation, Indian courts have protected misuse of confidential information either as a violation of contract or as a violation of intellectual property rights. Confidential information can be protected under common law by entering into oral as well as written agreements by the concerned parties. An oral agreement is enough to provide an obligation of confidence however it may be difficult to prove the existence of such an agreement in a court of law. Hence it is recommended that the Companies enter into following agreements with their employees and the outside consultants:

  1. agreement assigning to the company any trademark, copyright or patentable invention which the employee develops or is involved in developing during the course of his employment
  2. non-disclosure agreement regarding confidential information/know how;
  3. a non-compete provision covering a specified period of time following the termination of employment;
  4. discourage solicitation of the clients and employees of the company by the former employees.


Actual resolution of legal issues depends upon many factors, including variations of fact and laws of the land. Though the firm has taken utmost care in the preparation of this article, the information contained herein is not intended to constitute any legal advice and the firm cannot accept any responsibility towards those who rely solely on the contents of this article without taking further specialist advice. The reader should always consult with legal counsel before taking action on matters covered by this article.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.