Evolution of Intellectual Property Rights



Intellectual property (IP) pertains to any original creation of the human intellect like artistic, literary, technical, or scientific creation. IPR refers to the legal rights given to the inventor or creator to protect his invention or creation for a certain period of time. They allow their owner to completely benefit from his product which was initially an idea that developed and crystallized. They conjointly entitle him to prevent others from using, dealing, or meddling with his product without prior permission from him.


  • Signatures on Paintings and Creation -Ownership stamps on pottery and other household items excavated from prehistoric sites in Europe and Asia. Poetry was considered to be the first creative activity that was commodified[1].
  • Venetian Movement – The first known attempt to protect craft knowledge in Venice had been a decree issued by the council of Venice on 21 May 1297.
  • The first record of the copyright case was Finnian v. Columbia[2] in 550 AD. The statute of the University of Paris in 1223 legislated upon duplication of texts for the University’s use.
  • Concept of Copyright came after the invention of Printing Press- works of literature were mainly religious and written by scholarly monks who worked painstakingly for considerable periods of time preparing their illuminated books
  • The passing of the copyright Act 1709, popularly known as Statute of Ann (the world’s first copyright statute) the statute of Ann vested in authors of books a monopoly over their works, much to the surprise of the publishers.



Copyright law came to India in 1847 through an enactment during the East India Company’s regime. In 1914, the then Indian legislature enacted a new Copyright Act which merely extended most portions of the United Kingdom Copyright Act, 1911 to India. It did, however, make a few minor modifications. First, it introduced criminal sanctions for copyright infringement, and secondly,  it changed the scope of the term of copyright.


The first legislation in India relating to patents was Act VI of 1856. The Act was afterward repealed by Act IX of 1857. In 1911, the Indian Patents and Designs Act were brought in replacing all the previous legislation on patents and designs. Based on the recommendations of the Committee, the 1911 Act was amended in 1950 in relation to the working of inventions and compulsory license/revocation.

  • In 1952, an amendment was made to provide compulsory licenses in relation to patents in respect of food and medicines, insecticide, or any invention relating to surgical or curative devices.
  • In 1967, an amended bill was introduced which on the final recommendation of the Committee, the Patents Act, 1970 was passed.
  • The 2nd amendment to the 1970 Act was made through the Patents (Amendment) Act, 2002.
  • The 3rd amendment to the Patents Act, 1970 was introduced through the Patents (Amendment) Ordinance, 2004 with effect from 1st January 2005.

Prior to 1940, there was no official trademark Law in India. To absolve difficulties the Indian Trademarks Act was passed in 1940, this corresponded with the English Trademarks Act. The replacement of this act was the Trademark and Merchandise Act, 1958. The repeal of the Trademarks and Merchandise Act gave rise to the Trademark Act 1999.


  • WIPO Convention, 1967

The WIPO Convention, the constituent instrument of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), was signed at Stockholm on July 14, 1967, entered into force in 1970 and was amended in 1979. WIPO is an intergovernmental organization that became in 1974 one of the specialized agencies of the United Nations system of organizations.

WIPO was established under this Convention with two main objectives – to promote the protection of intellectual property worldwide and to ensure administrative cooperation among the intellectual property Unions established by the treaties that WIPO administers. India became a member on May 1, 1975. The headquarters of the Organization is in Geneva, Switzerland.

  • Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, 1883

It was adopted on March 20, 1883, at Paris and entered into force on July 7, 1884. It provides basic guidelines for the protection of industrial property patents, utility models, industrial designs, trademarks, service marks, trade names but also indications of source or appellations of origin, and the repression of unfair competition and has substantive provisions for national treatment, right of priority and common rules. This treaty came into force in India from December 7, 1998.

  • Vienna Agreement Establishing an International Classification of the Figurative Elements of Marks (1973)

The Vienna Agreement, concluded in Vienna in 1973 and amended in 1985, establishes the Vienna Classification for marks that contain figurative elements. The purpose of the classification is essential to facilitate trademark anticipation searches. The countries that are party to the Vienna Agreement no longer need to draw up their own national classification or keep an existing one up to date.

The Classification constitutes a hierarchical system that proceeds from the general to the particular, dividing all figurative elements into categories, divisions, and sections. There are two kinds of sections: main and auxiliary sections.

  • Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (1925)

The Hague Agreement allows applicants to register an industrial design by filing a single application with the WIPO, enabling design owners to protect their designs with minimum formalities in multiple countries or regions. The Hague Agreement also simplifies the management of industrial design registration, since it is possible to record subsequent changes and to renew the international registration through a single procedural step.

Two Acts of the Hague Agreement are currently in operation are the 1999 Act and the 1960 Act. In September 2009, it was decided to freeze the application of the 1934 Act of the Hague Agreement.

  • Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, 1886

It was adopted on September 9, 1886, at Berne and entered into force on December 4, 1887. This Convention on Copyrights rests on three basic principles those are national treatment, automatic protection, and independence of protection. It also contains a series of provisions determining the minimum protection to be granted. It came into force in India on April 1, 1928.

The principle of “national treatment”, according to which works originating in one of the Member States are to be given the same protection in each of the member States as these grants to works of their own nationals.

Secondly, there is automatic protection,  protection is granted automatically and is not subject to the formality of registration, deposit, or the like. Thirdly, there is the independence of protection, according to which enjoyment and exercise of the rights granted are independent of the existence of protection in the country of origin of the work.


An innovative industry continues to play a more significant role in the national economy, awareness of intellectual property has grown, along with the diversity of perspective troubled by the intellectual property law’s implication. Thus IPR, in this way aids the economic development of a country by promoting healthy competition and encouraging industrial development and economic growth. The present review furnishes a brief overview of IPR with special emphasis on pharmaceuticals.

[1] Prankrisna Pal, Intellectual Property Rights in India, (Regal Publication, New Delhi, 2008).

[2] Incredibly, in the year 567 A. D. Apparently, St. Columba surprisingly made a copy of plaster in the possession of his teacher Finian. R. R.  Bowker, Copyright: Its History and Its Law (Houghton Mifflin, 1912) at p. 3.

Author: Akanksha Anand,
Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, 4th year/ Student

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