Intellectual Property Rights: What Your Teen Should Know

With the rising number of young innovators, as well as increased instances of intellectual property rights being misused, it's important that you educate your children on their importance. Here’s how.

By Sushma Sosha Philip and Susan Philip

Intellectual Property Rights: What Your Teen Should Know

Intellectual property (IP) is any creation which involves the application of the mind. Unlike physical property like land, intellectual property is intangible, that is, it does not have a physical form. Without intellectual property rights to protects people’s innovations, no one will be motivated to develop new concepts or ideas.

While intellectual property (IP) may be a slightly difficult concept to grasp initially, it is important for your children to learn about it and the rights associated with this type of property.

Types of Intellectual Property Rights:

There are many kinds of IP and rights associated with them. The following are the most common types of IP:

1. Patents:

Patents are documents granting certain rights to inventors for their inventions. These rights allow right holders to exploit the invention for their own gain and prevent others from copying or using the invention without their permission. Patents may be given for a product or a process. There are certain requirements for a patent to be granted. These may differ from country to country as patents are country-specific. In most countries, patent rights are only given for a specific time. In India it is for 20 years. After this, others can use the patented invention freely. This is to ensure that, while the inventor does get an incentive for a particular period of time, the invention is not kept from the general public forever. The Indian Patent Act, 1970 contains the rules and laws relating to patents in India.

  • How to teach your child: To make this concept more understandable to your child, the next time he builds something with his building blocks, ask him to explain the purpose of his creation and then tell him how he can profit from this creation.

2. Trademarks:

Trademarks are logos or words that are used to represent a product or a service. These marks are meant to stand out so that customers easily identify what they represent and the quality associated with such product or service. Trademark protection in India is unlimited as long as it is renewed periodically. However, trademarks are very often misused as they can be easily copied. As a result, the owner of the trademark suffers and the customers also feel cheated as they do not get what they expect from the brand. Thus, the benefit of maintaining the integrity of trademarks is not only for the owner of the trademark but also for the consumer. In India, the Indian Trademark Act of 1999 deals with the law relating to trademarks.

  • How to teach your child: The next time you come across a copy of a trademark or a fake brand, ensure that you bring it to the notice of your children and explain how violation of trademark rights affects you, as a consumer.

3. Copyrights:

Copyright is an interesting form of intellectual property protection as it does not protect the idea behind a work; but, it protects how the idea was expressed. Copyrights need not be registered. A copyright comes into existence as soon as a literary work like a book, poem or a song is created. A copyright holder has the exclusive right to distribute the work or license out the work for distribution, in return for compensation. However, copyright protection is also limited by time. Once the period of protection is over, literary works are freely available to the public. The Copyright Act of 1957 deals with copyrights in India.

  • How to teach your child: Ask your children to draw a picture or write a small essay on a particular topic or theme. The only condition is that it should be entirely original and not copied from something they have already seen or read. Once they are done, explain to them that since they used their original thought and idea to put together the article or the song, no one can copy it without their permission for a particular period of time.

4. Industrial Designs: 

These are rights that protect designs that do not have any particular use and cannot be protected by patents, for example, the shape of a Coke bottle. They are protected because some amount of thought has gone into creating these designs and they help customers identify a product. Industrial design registration is often combined with patent and trademark registration to increase the protection of that product. In India, the Designs Act 2000 deals with design protection.

  • How to teach your child: The next time you are in a supermarket with your child, point out all the unique designs of products and explain why it is important that these designs are not duplicated.

5. Geographical Indications: 

Geographical indications are those tags granted to products or processes that are linked to a particular area or community. In India, the Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 deals with this subject. Kancheepuram saris and Darjeeling tea are common examples. Protecting GIs, benefits the community or area which produces these products and makes the production process more profitable for artisans. However, many of the producers of these products don’t know how best to exploit these GIs. As a result, their businesses suffer.

  • How to teach your child: Take your children to visit a place where such products are produced (for example the weavers of Kancheepuram) and encourage them to appreciate the work that goes into the production of these items.

There are several other forms of IP rights such as rights protecting traditional knowledge, plant varieties and semiconductors. Making your children aware of these rights will teach them to respect the property of others as well as inspire them to innovate on their own.

Sushma Sosha Philip is a lawyer with experience in corporate law and IPR. She is currently pursuing her Master's degree from the University of Leiden.

Disclaimer: The article contains only general information about the laws. No part of this article constitutes legal advice of any sort and it cannot be relied on for any legal purpose.

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