India has substantive legislation covering all major forms of intellectual property (IP), including patents, copyright, designs, trademarks, plantvarieties, geographical indications and semiconductors. As a World Trade Organization member since 1995,2 all this legislation, by and large, complieswith the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

An overview of all the major forms of intellectual properties and the available legal framework for their protection are as follows:

i Patents

Registration and protection of patents in India are governed by the Patents Act, 1970,3 and the accompanying rules.4 The law conforms to theuniversally applicable triple test for grant of patents, namely, that a new product or process that involves an inventive step and is capable ofindustrial application is entitled to be protected as a patent.5 The patent term is 20 years from the date of filing. A patent registration cannot berenewed.6

ii Trademarks

Registration and protection of trademarks in India is governed by the Trade Marks Act 1999 (TMA),7 which defines a trademark as a mark that can be represented graphically and is 'capable of distinguishing the goods and services of one person from those of others'. 8 A mark, under the TMA,is defined as including a device, brand, label, ticket, name, signature, word, letter, numeral, shape of goods, packaging, combination of colours or anycombination thereof.9 As per the TMA, a registered owner or proprietor is entitled to the exclusive right to use the mark in connection with goods and services in respect of which it is registered.10 Registration of a trademark is valid for 10 years and theregistered proprietor has the option of renewing it indefinitely from time to time upon payment of the requisite fee.11

iii Copyright

Registration and protection of copyright in India is governed under the Copyright Act, 1957. Under the Copyright Act, a copyright subsists inoriginal literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, cinematograph films and sound recordings.12 It confers an exclusive right upon the owner of thecopyright to, inter alia, reproduce a work in any material form and communicate such work to the public.13 The author of the work shall be thefirst owner of the copyright, subject to certain conditions. The Copyright Act also recognises and protects performers' rights,14 authors' special rights15 and broadcast reproduction rights.16 The duration of a copyright, in the case of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, subsists during the lifetime of its author, and for 60 yearsafter the death of the author;17 and in the case of cinematograph films and sound recordings, the term of a copyright is 60 years from the year of publication of such work.18

Copyright registration is not mandatory in India and a copyright holder can even bring an infringement action without having a registration.However, the advantage of seeking a registration is that it serves as a prima facie evidence of particulars entered in the Register of Copyrights.19

Apart from civil remedies, the Copyright Act also provides for criminal remedies.20

iv Industrial designs

Registration and protection of industrial designs in India is governed by the Designs Act, 2000 21 and the accompanying rules. The Designs Act only protects the features of shape, configuration, pattern, ornament, composition of lines or colours, which are applied to any article, whether in 2Dor 3D or both forms, by any industrial process, and which are capable of being judged solely by the eye.22 Additionally, an article that is sought to be protected under the Designs Act must be new or original and should also not be disclosed to the public prior to the date of filing the application.23


1 Sujata Chaudhri is the managing partner and founder of, and Urfee Roomi is a partner and Anubhav Chhabra and Jaskaran Singh are associates at, SujataChaudhri IP Attorneys.

2. https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/countries_e/india_e.htm.

3. The Patents Act, 1970 (39 of 1970).

4. The Patent Rule, 2003.

5. Section 2(1)(j), The Patents Act, 1970.

6. Section 53, The Patents Act, 1970.

7. The Trade Marks Act, 1999 (Act 47 of 1999).

8. Section 2 (1) (zb) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999.

9. Section 2 (1) (m) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999.

10 Section 28 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999.

11. Section 25 (1) and (2) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999.

12. Section 13 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

13. Section 14 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

14. Section 38 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

15. Section 57 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

16. Section 37 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

17. Section 22 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

18. Section 26 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

19. Section 48 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

20. Section 63 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

21. The Designs Act, 2000 (Act 16 of 2000).

22. Section 2(d), the Designs Act, 2000.

23. Section 4, the Designs Act, 2000.

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