History of IPR system

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This article was written by Phalguni Mahapatra, a student of Hidayatullah National Law University.

Every human being, even animals, has a inclination to protect and possess a physical thing they have. Most people will not accept the fact that anyone without their permission or without a simple acknowledgement copies their writings, designs or products made by them and take the credits. By not having a system in place to formally protect the intellectually created work of an individual, a society would strike at the root of ingenuity and innovation of its own people. The society is always in need of new ideas, products, processes, designs, recipes and so on to improve the quality of life, have better health for its people, produce new things and have a trade advantage by increasing the size and quality.

Trade and commerce have emerged to be the major deterministic factor for achieving the above goals.[1] During 1950s to 1980s there was no intense pressure of globalisation or internationalization and many countries, including India, never felt the need to have a strong system of intellectual property rights. Globalization driven by chemical, pharmaceutical, electronic and IT industries has resulted into large investment in R&D and this process is characterized by shortening of product cycle time and high risk of reverse engineering by competitors.[2] The realization came to the Industries that to protect a technology, trade secrets are not the only way. In order to enjoy the fruit of innovation then uniform intellectual property rights must become an important member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

History of Patent

Patents began as a tool for promoting and introducing new products, technologies and techniques in European countries. A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention – a product or process that provides a new way of doing something, or that offers a new technical solution to a problem.[3]

The history of granting patents can be traced back to the fourteenth century. On some matters England was technologically advanced in compared to other European countries, and used to attract artisans from different parts on special terms. One such people decided to come to England and he would need the locals. And with time those locals used to get trained in any particular trade and craft, but those locals were likely to become competitors to the trainee or an immigrant and hence a threat to the monopoly. Therefore, protection was given to the immigrant to have a monopoly for few years, to enable him to exploit the economic returns of his art, special expertise, or technological innovation. It is interesting to note that the original period of protection of 14 years for a patent was not with out reasons. Seven years was the term of service of an apprentice, so the protection for fourteen years meant protection for two generations of apprentices.

This period was continued until recently, even though the concept of seven years apprenticeship is no longer followed. As early as 1332, the Venetian Grand Council decided to create a privilege fund for providing loans and other rewards to a foreign manufacturer of windmills who attempt to bring knowledge of this art to the city. In 1416 the Council granted to Fransciscus Petri, from the Island of Rhodes, a patent for a superior device for filling (shrinking and thickening) of fabrics, this patent gave exclusive rights for 50 years to Petri and his heirs to build, alter and reconstruct the apparatus.

In this period of introducing new art and technologies a thought process slowly started taking roots, on the question of disclosing secrets of the art or craft or technologies. It really did not matter whether the inventor was from the same or from a foreign country. When in 1421, the Florentine commune awarded a patent to Brunelleschi this period of introducing new art and technologies a thought process slowly snew design of ship, he claimed that the ship could haul loads more cheaply on the Arno River; the nature of bargain for disclosure was spelled out candidly in Bruelleschi’s petition “He refuses to make such machine available to the public in order that the fruit of his genius and skill may not be reaped by another with out his will and consent, and that, if he enjoyed some prerogative concerning this, he would open up what he is hiding and would disclose it to all.” 

History of Copyright

Until the advent of printing machines there was no steps to protect the rights of literary works involving published works. With the invention of the printing machines the copying of literary works was made easy as before that someone has to completely write down the manuscript for the sake of copying it. This was time taking and if we see from the commercial angle it was not profitable. The Copyright Law, from the staring, has been designed more by the economics of publication than by the economics of authorship. Italy witnessed the first known copyrights. By the end of 1460s the craft of printing was introduced in Rome and Venice. The Venice provided a number of privileges in terms of import of franchise, exclusive licenses to print or sell an entire class of books, prohibition of import of books printed abroad and patents for the improvement of printing and typography. As the focus was on printing books in public domain (such as the Bible), the rights of authorship were not given primary importance.

The first franchise for printing was received from a German printer Johann von Speyer. In 1493 the Venetian Cabinet gave Daniele Barbaro an exclusive 10-year grant of proprietary rights for the publication of a book authored by his deceased brother. Such cases were seen very less, copyrights were by and large issued to the publishers for works written by others. This is an interesting aspect of copyrights. In the last few centuries, the focus of ownership shifted from that of publisher to creator / author of the work. With the advent of digital technologies and new forms of works being created, especially for internet purposes, publishers’ stakes seem to be increasing each day as the quality of replication and ease of replication have become extremely easy. The publisher lobby is therefore seeking new treaties such as the Data Protection Treaty, for protecting their investments. It may become a case of the old order taking over the new order because technological inputs have brought about a major shift in the publishing business.

Venice is the birth place of intellectual property system as we can that major legal works in regards to this area was done here. For the first time intellectual property right system was created which later was followed by the other countries. Many scholars regard that first copyright law came in the world in the form of a decree issued by the Venice Council around 1545, which restricted the printing of any work without the due permission of the original author. Apparently no steps were taken to maintain a register for the copyrighted works. Afterward similar laws were introduced by other European countries. The censorship was introduced by each country to not to publish any material that was considered unacceptable by the society. Such laws of the country was applicable on printing and publishing material generated within the country and not publishing and printing of books, pamphlets etc. which were imported into the country. Therefore, the essential element of international obligation which we find in the present model was missing. We can see the major transformation in the character of Intellectual management in different countries since the borders and barriers to global trade and commerce are disappearing. It was driven either consciously or unconsciously by the essence of promoting fair competition and attaching due respect to the creators of knowledge.

[1] http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/40586/8/11_chapter2.pdf

[2] http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/40586/8/11_chapter2.pdf

[3] http://www.wipo.int/edocs/pubdocs/en/intproperty/450/wipo_pub_450.pdf

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