IP Around The World


Intellectual Property Right is a protection against exploitation of someone’s intellectual creation. This could be in the form of literature, music, drama, any trade secret or any trademark or brand name. Nearly every country across the globe has certain laws to protect these intellectual property rights. However, this also raises a question of whether the intellectual property rights vary from country to country. In this article, I would like to address this issue in detail.

Special 301 Report

The IP regime varies from country to country. The United States Trade Representative (USTR) publishes an annual Report name Special 301. This Report categorizes countries based on its IP protection regime. Countries which have a weak IPR regime is categorized as ‘Priority Watch List’. Unfortunately India is in the ‘Priority Watch List’ in the List published for the year 2021. The Report mentions India to be inconsistent in its IPR Regime. Some of its major problems are that patent remains to be costly and time consuming. Data protection remains another significant challenge due to lack of any law in this regard. India also remains high in the incidences of counterfeiting because of lack of proper implementation of IP laws by courts and police officers.

However, countries like Poland and Hungary have been removed from the Priority Watch List because they have taken significant steps in reducing IP theft. For example, countries like Brazil have brought strict penal provisions for criminal investigation in trademark infringement and copyright piracy on online sales. It has also introduced National Institute of Industrial Property to implement technology-neutral Patent Prosecution Highway Programme. It has made certain relaxation in the Patent registration which reduced the backlog by over 50% in 2019. Similarly, Columbia has effectively implemented the 1991 Act of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). It is to be remembered that even though India is not a signatory to the Treaty, but the Indian government had enacted the Protection of Plant Varieties And Farmer Rights Act to protect the rights of breeders, farmers and researchers for discovering new seeds and plants.


While different intellectual property rights regimes prevail in different countries, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is making an effort in harmonizing different laws. The process was initiated in 1883 with the signing of the Paris Convention and the Berne Convention. This was named as ‘International Bureau’. It later became part of the United Nations in 1974. Over the years, it has administered various treaties between nations with the aim of harmonizing the laws. Over the years it has administered 26 treaties on various intellectual property rights like the WIPO Copyright Treaty, Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademark, Phonograms Convention etc. However, despite its efforts, laws remain different in different countries. For example, in India, the doctrine of fixation is necessary for Copyright Protection. However, countries like France have done away with the fixation requirement. Even the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Work gives freedom to countries to decide on this issue. Hence, uniform laws are difficult to achieve.