legal minds

This article has been written by Syeda Salma Fathima pursuing a Diploma in Technology Law, Fintech Regulations and Technology Contracts from LawSikho.

 This article has been edited and published by Shashwat Kaushik.


In the world of technological advancement, the protection of intellectual property rights plays an important role in encouraging innovations, attracting investment, and ensuring fair competition in the growth of technology and the rise of the Indian economy. 

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This article aims to exhibit the significance of IPR in securing the growth of technology in Indian society. 

What are intellectual property rights

Intellectual property rights are legal rights granted to an individual’s intelligence that protect the creations of their minds as intangible property for a certain period of time. If the ideas and hard work of the inventor are not protected, then the concerned inventor will not get benefits for their hard work and will develop dissatisfaction, which will finally result in the decline of research and development. If the intellectual property of each participant is protected, it will lead to knowledge sharing, technology transfer, and cooperation among industries and institutions, contributing to overall progress.

To promote the growth of technology in different fields, the government of India has taken many progressive steps by granting intellectual property rights to inventors. In today’s fast-paced world with high levels of cutting-edge technology competition, IPR plays a vital role in securing the growth and development of the country.

Types of intellectual property rights

Intellectual property rights are a prominent factor in stimulating and promoting research and development. In India, there are seven (7) types of intellectual property rights granted to individuals to provide recognition for their hard work and encourage new developments. They are as follows:

  • Patents: Protects ideas and inventions and provide the owner with an exclusive right to use and sell the technology for a certain period.
  • Copyrights: Protect the ideas and original works of authors and creators for their unique work, be it written works, music, art, etc. The owners of copyright have exclusive rights to display, distribute and reproduce their work.
  • Trademarks: Protect designs and symbols that provide identity for their goods and services; they differentiate company products  from those of their competitors.
  • Trade secrets: Protect processes, formulas, and customer lists that give a company a competitive advantage and may be licensed or sold.
  • Geographical indications: Protect the names of the products from particular geographical areas and origins.
  • Plant varieties: protects new varieties of plants that are uniform or distinct from others.
  • Industrial designs: Protect the visual appearance of the product, like shapes, size, colour, etc.

History of intellectual property rights in India

In the mid 19th century, during the British colonial period, the first copyrights and patent laws were introduced in India to serve the interests of the British. Later, after independence in 1970, the Indian Patent Act was enacted to promote indigenous innovations and technological advancements by protecting the intellectual property rights of Indian inventors and entrepreneurs. To reduce dependency on foreign technology, promote self-reliance and develop indigenous technologies, public research institutions were established in India with a series of new policies that allowed compulsory licensing of patents in the national interest.

In 1991, with the introduction of the New Economic Policy of Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation, India began to open up its economy and integrate with the global economy. This led to a greater emphasis on the protection of IPR as a means to attract foreign investment and technology. And in 1994, when India became a signatory to the TRIPS agreement under the World Trade Organisation, there was increased demand to improve India’s intellectual property laws with the evolving global best practices for intellectual property. After the TRIPS agreement, even the private sector started investing in research and development. Though India has made significant progress in protecting and promoting intellectual property rights, there are still many challenges relating to patents, copyrights, and infringement of those rights.

Role of IPR in technology growth

Intellectual property rights (IPR) have played a crucial role in the growth of technology in India. IPR  provides incentives to individuals and companies to invest their time, resources, and expertise in developing new technologies, in turn, encouraging more people to invest in research and development, leading to further technological advancements.

  • By providing legal protection, IPR fosters a culture of innovation, leading to continuous growth in various sectors such as health care, information technology, and renewable energy, and this technology transfer leads to collaboration between two entities. 
  • International companies invest in countries whose IPR laws are well-defined, which will attract FDI, leading to knowledge sharing, the transfer of technology, job creation and the promotion of economic growth in both countries. 
  • IPR laws discourage any infringement, violation of rights  or counterfeiting of technological innovations; by safeguarding the technology, IPR protects healthy competition among technology companies. 
  • Moreover, IPR protection has even encouraged new startups and their innovative ideas and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to invest in the technology sector, and gain a competitive edge in the market.
  • And the establishment of the technology parks and technology transfer offices at the universities had made it easy to  provide filing, transferring and licensing of the IP.
  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has taken many initiatives to create awareness about IPR and facilitate support to promote innovation in the information technology sector.
  • To create awareness and grow IPR, Meity’s initiative, the Centre of Excellence (CoE-IP) in Intellectual Property, was established under TIDE 2.0 scheme and run by Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) in Pune. It has provided financial support to startups and SMEs for international patent filing, providing protection, and providing value added services.
  • The CoE-IP initiative encouraged the growth of IP in information and communication technology by creating a framework to identify, protect, and monetize intellectual property rights and provide IPR assistance to MeitY supported R&D projects.
  • MeitY another scheme Support for International Patent Protection in E&IT-II (SIP-EIT-II) provides support to MSMEs and startups that are trying to secure intellectual property rights on a global level by providing financial support to MSMEs and tech startups  and establishing competitive advantage. This scheme was for a period of 5 years to support 200 international information and technology patent applications.
  • The Patent Analysis Management System was initiated by the CoE-IP as a single window interface that provides prior art search, invention analysis, IPR queries, landscape reports, and latest updates on IPR awareness programmes.
  • To promote IPR protection in the software industry, the Indian government has implemented policies that have encouraged companies to invest in research and development.
  • The Indian Patent Act of 1970 allowed Indian companies to manufacture generic versions of patented drugs. This led to the tremendous growth of the Indian pharmaceutical industry, which became the largest producer of generic drugs in the world.

National IPR Policy (2016) in India

It is a visionary document with the tagline “Creative India,” “Innovative India,” that provides awareness among the public, outreach and promotion of all IPRs. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) under the Ministry of Commerce adopted the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy. It provides institutional mechanisms to explain the process of  implementation, monitoring and review of the IP laws, thus encouraging new innovations and entrepreneurship in India. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotions (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce of India, is the nodal department that coordinates, guides, and oversees the implementation and future development of IPRs in India.

This policy creates an atmosphere to commercialise by modernising  and strengthening service-oriented IPR administration, generating new IPR’s by providing human capital for teaching, research and skill building in intellectual property rights, and helping combat IPR infringements by having a strong legal framework and adjudicatory mechanisms that balance the interests of rights owners with the larger public interest. to create public awareness about the economic, social and cultural benefits of IPRs among all sections of society. It aims to incorporate and adapt global best practices to the Indian scenario to provide a better and brighter future for all.

Growth in Indian IPR compared to other countries

Countries with a strong IPR system are more favourable for trade relations. Intellectual property with international standard protection enhances a nation’s reputation, facilitates trade negotiations, and promotes the export of innovative products and services.

India, as an emerging market, has made significant changes to its IPR laws and with recent implementations like the National IPR Policy 2016, the National (IP) Awareness Mission (NIPAM), which aims to inculcate the spirit of creativity and innovation in students of higher education (classes 8–12) and provide awareness on intellectual property and its rights to the public, the Kalam Program for Intellectual Property Literacy and Awareness Campaign (KAPILA) to increase awareness regarding the protection and exploitation of intellectual property (IP) and also to provide funding support in order to promote the filing of intellectual property (IP) in higher education institutions,. This has strengthened the IP regime. India is rapidly progressing towards becoming Asia’s innovation hub and aspires to become a global manufacturing hub.

India ranks 40th out of 132 in the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2023 rankings released by WIPO, showcasing a remarkable climb from the 81st spot in 2015. The amazing work done by the public and private research organisations, with their outstanding start-up ecosystem and knowledge capital, has improved the GII ranking of India. 

India, through its continuous positive effort, has made incremental gains and has improved. And India is ranked 42 out of 55 countries in the International IP Index, with the US ranking first, followed by the UK and France, which are compiled by the US Chambers of Commerce. The report also highlights that India has made incremental gains and embraced positive rhetoric with its IP policies, but there is a need to tighten its patent law with legislative reforms, the patent registration process. 

In 2000, the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) declared April 26 as World Intellectual Property Day. and the theme of World Intellectual Property 2023 is “Women and IP: Accelerating Innovation and Creativity.” WIPO recognises the equal participation of women and men in the innovation ecosystem.

India, to educate and create awareness among girls and women and encourage their participation from an early age, promoted STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). By providing programmes, workshops, and training sessions in their academics to enhance their knowledge and skills in innovation and IP. And it is encouraging successful women innovators to serve as role models and inspire aspiring innovators to pursue their ideas and protect their IP.

Challenges faced by IPR in India

Different countries have different IP challenges. India, being an emerging market, has made a great effort to align with the rules of TRIPS, but there are still many challenges that need to be addressed  to maximise the benefits of IPR. some of them which need to be addressed are;

  • Lack of awareness  about IP protection among the general public.
  • Inconsistent application of IPR policies across different states and regions leads to confusion and uncertainty for rights holders.
  • Insufficient  legislative  regulations.
  • Insufficient funding for research institutions and universities hinders innovation and the generation of new intellectual property.
  • Absence of an effective review committee on IPR.
  • Rampant piracy and counterfeiting of copyrighted materials, trademarks, and industrial designs.
  • Lack of stringent measures to combat online piracy and illegal distribution of content.
  • Lengthy judicial proceedings and delayed resolution of IPR disputes.
  • Non-alignment of Indian IPR laws with international standards, making it challenging for Indian entities to compete globally.
  • Limited technical insight and application expertise.
  • There are no specific laws to protect trade secrets.
  • Indian law does not protect against unfair commercial use of test data for market approval of pharmaceutical or agro-chemical products.
  • The challenges of the digital age are AI, machine learning, piracy, data protection, cybercrime, etc.

Because protecting intellectual assets has become a matter of great importance, to encourage innovation and technological development.


The role of intellectual property rights in India  has played a significant role in both public and private sector developments. The protection of IPR  has encouraged businesses to develop and protect their property by enhancing competition in international markets. But as there is a paradigm shift from the computer age to the AI age, the traditional way of protecting IP will not be sufficient to protect the new innovations. Just promoting the IPR environment to attract investment will not be sufficient. To achieve overall development, it is very important for India to continue strengthening its IPR regime with new legislation and regulations to ensure that inventors, and technology companies are adequately rewarded for their contributions to the sustainable economic and technological growth of India.



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