Well, needless to say, Intellectual Property Law is such an area of law which is somewhat alien to a large section of public. What prompted me to write this article are the constant queries that I receive from people around me, being an Intellectual Property Attorney. Through the medium of this article, I would like to draw the attention of readers towards various misconceptions about Intellectual Property Law. And mind you, there are a lot. I take this opportunity to present my own list of most common fallacies, which are as follows:
Patent, trademark, copyright are all the same thing
Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. IP is protected in law by patents, trademarks or copyrights. People often treat them as the same although, they are substantially different from each other. To elucidate, a patent is granted for inventions, trademark for business representations, and copyright for various works such literary, artistic, musical, dramatic, sound recordings, cinematograph films.
Intellectual Property Law is dull and monotonous
How could the lawsuits involving some marijuana dispensaries selling marijuana-filled knockoffs of the Hershey’s chocolate’s well-known brands be boring? Or the case of PETA filing a suit on behalf of a female macaque monkey asserting its authorship over the “selfie” taken by it, from a photographer’s camera. The list is never ending. Documentation may seem technical, mundane and a little confusing at times, but that is a small aspect of IP practice which is a multi-faceted realm filled with constant excitement, surprises and learning.
Intellectual Property operates in its own space
To some, IP may seem like a complex or bizarre area of law which operates in its own sphere. Today IP is a part of almost every other business, and has emerged as one of the most sought after intangible assets that a business may capitalise on. I would like the readers to think of an area where IP does not play an important role. Now, certainly it would be hard.to think of any. Let’s face it IP is pretty much omnipresent.
Only a lawyer can do work related to Intellectual Property Law
The study of law is not a requirement to be a part of this profession. For instance being a patent agent. All you need is an undergraduate science degree (chemistry, biology, physics, computer science, etc.) and be 21 years of age, to sit for the patent agent exam in India. He is eligible to file a patent, and taking care of all the subsequent prosecution before the Patent Office. So IP as a profession is open to a lot more people that you thought.
Only an application is to be filed and you get registration
By filing an application for a trademark, copyright or a patent, your work has just begun. The registration process of any kind of IP can be very exhausting and expensive at times. From filing of an application to its eventual registration there are numerous stages an application goes through. But wait, there is more. Once registered you need to think of commercialization of the IP, renewals etc. Intellectual property is something which needs to be protected, exploited and maintained regularly to prevent risks. It needs nurturing as some may say.
“Life goes on, and for the sake of verisimilitude and realism, you cannot possibly give the impression of an ending,” said the short story writer John O’Hara once. Neither do I wish to conclude this article, as it is by no means even close to exhaustive with respect to IP. However, I hope the article has cleared certain misconceptions that have been synonymous with Intellectual Property Law.
Authored by Nikhil Kumar