Intellectual Property Rights in the Cyber Space

The domain of Intellectual Property Rights is vast, and in the present 21st century, there have been many creative and original things created by human beings through applications of his mind, thereby referring to his property and further also accords the protection of those original things through Intellectual property rights. These are the reasons which have made Intellectual property assume a high value in today’s knowledge-driven economy. The advancement in technology and where the world is dependent on internet for most of the times, the area of intellectual property rights has also increased its ambit to the sectors of information and technology and cyberspace. The companies having compliance in technology and knowledge, have considered Intellectual Property Rights as an integral asset for their business strategies and operations.

In this era of technological innovations, the computers have played a vital role in sharing the data with other computers through networking, thereby leading to major telecommunication revolution. Therefore, networking has led to further contributions to the concept of cyberspace. With reference to Intellectual property Rights, the domains of copyright, trademarks and patents have gained a widespread outlook in this technological era. However, if we compare the information Technology laws with the laws on intellectual property rights, then the legislation is silent on the issues in cyberspace.

The applicability of intellectual property rights in cyberspace can be summarized in the following ways:

A. Copyright:

In this era of digitalization, the copyrights have also expanded their protection to the computer programs. Article 10 of the TRIPS Agreement has provided copyright protection just like the other literary and artistic works, and similarly the Copyright Act, 1957 has also included the protection of computer programs under Section 2(ffc). The owner of the copyright software has the right to reproduce his work and also can make his work available to the public domain. The owner would also be accorded with the rights of exclusivity, and that any kind of illegal use and exploitation of the work would result in copyright infringement. Secondly, with respect to databases, the Information Technology Act, 2000 has defined database under Section 43 and simultaneously the Copyright Act, 1957 has also provided protection to the databases under Section 13(1)(a) categorized under ‘literary works. If the third parties commit any breach and illegal use of the database without the prior consent of the owner, then he would be liable for punishment under Section 66 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 in form of penal liabilities. Thirdly, the web pages that are made accessible to the public at large are also copyrightable under the literary works. Other works that can be protected under the realm of copyright in cyberspace include within its ambit the unsent messages, audio, videos, songs and others.

B. Trademarks:

Trademarks: Domain names are used in internet for the purposes of communication. These are the names that the authorities assign to their businesses, and serve as the primary identifiers of the internet user. Thus, the domain names are provided protection under the Trademarks Act, 1999, and are registrable if they qualify the test of distinctiveness. `

C. Patents:

The Indian Patents Act, 1970 has excluded the patenting of computer software. The issue with respect to software patents has increased worldwide. If we compare the position of the United States of America, then it must be stated that the nation-state is in favor of granting patents to computer software. The situation in India is not the same, as Section3 of the Patents Act has restricted the grant of patents to computer software. However, it was in 2004 when the international software giant Microsoft filed 306 applications for the purposes of granting patents to software. Thus, the applications were disposed but this can lead to observant changes in the future

Therefore, with the increasing protection of cyberspace through intellectual property rights, there are various issues which have emerged, and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

i. The issue of caching has emerged in the realm of copyright, which means the temporary copying of the original works of the author and making it available to the public without the prior consent of the author. This violates copyright and the rights of reproduction of the author.

ii. The issue of plagiarism and piracy has also been observed in this technological era, wherein the original content from the books, videos, movies, and articles is copied and then made available to the public domain at large and distributed without any prior consent and without giving any credits to the owner.

iii. The issue of cybersquatting has also emerged in the realm of intellectual property rights. The domain names are protected under trademarks, but sometimes the individuals use the domain names without any prior registration and inherent rights, thereby causing trademark infringement.

Internet and computer software determines the digital world. The internet has made the copyrighted content, trademarks and patent software easily accessible and distributable, but has also posed challenges in the domain of cyberspace. As intellectual property rights is new in cyberspace, it makes it clear that there are several aspects in cyberspace that are still to be unleashed.