Intellectual Property Rights: Nails in the Coffin of Creativity
Author: Tanya Saraswat
Designation - Student
What are Intellectual Property Rights?
Everyone has some creative ideas in their mind and maybe some people might have similar ideas. Before the second person can go for that idea, the first person ensures that the idea is protected in the form of any new product or innovation. Thus, Intellectual property Rights are those exclusive rights that are given to the creators to avoid any commercial exploitation. The rights are granted in case of inventions, literary works, artistic works, designs or images so that no person other than the inventor or creator. The need to protect such inventions and new ideas has been recognized for centuries now. The organization or person having an exclusive right can prevent others from stealing the idea. It has always been a means of improving and enhancing innovation and creativity but sometimes it might act as a threat to these factors.
When can IPR arise as a threat to creativity?
There are two primary circumstances wherein Intellectual Property Rights may not prove to be beneficial or successful: too-weak rights or too-strong rights.
Weak patent, copyright or trademark rights may lead to piracy or theft of data which is certainly a threat to the creativity and innovation of the creator. A third party will be able to steal and duplicate the data easily.
Sometimes, the rights might be difficult or costlier to acquire and thus, the innovators tend to enter into partnerships or ventures with other large firms.
In case of appropriate rights, the employees tend to ensure that they use their sills and capabilities to the fullest to gain the maximum benefits from the innovation. But in case of weak rights, they tend to focus on their monotonous jobs alone.
When the rights are too strong and cover a broad aspect of the products, it becomes difficult for the small-scale businesses to innovate and manufacture exceptionally well and different products.
In case of strong patents or rights, the acquisition costs are high and thus, it mainly benefits the large enterprises rather than small or medium-sized ones. The large-scale companies ty to innovate and patent their work and on the other hand, the small and medium scale enterprises tend to use those patents and earn revenue with the permission of the creator. Thus, there is only a little room for invention and creativity.
When the intellectual property rights are strong and strict, the large firms or the patent holders get a leverage of exploiting the other firms. They can even threaten the new innovators with litigation and other legal remedies.
If the rights are too weak or too stringent, then there can be no benefit to anyone and thus, the rights must tend to strike a balance between exclusive rights and prevention of commercial exploitation of such rights. The only motive of such rights must be to avoid any misuse or abuse of the innovation of a person. The innovator or creator must receive due credits for the work.
DRDO’s latest policy
DRDO stands for Defence Research and Development Organisation. It is a premier R&D organization in India that deals with areas of military and technology to address the issues and needs of the defence system to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the defence sector in India. Being a premier organization, DRDO also holds certain patents for its sources, research and innovations.
In the recent change in DRDO’s policy, the organization has allowed the companies to use its patents for commercial exploitation. Around 450 patents covering missile technology, aeronautics, naval system, electronic and communication have been out in the market for free access and exploitation. The reason behind such a change and overall exploitation of patents for sometime might be a step towards bridging the gap between IP creators and potential users. DRDO’s patents are expensive and highly protected in a broader sense and thus, it might be difficult for the small-scale enterprises to exploit it after paying the royalty amount. It can enhance the capabilities of the companies and enterprises to enhance their logistics and supply chains. The already established patents can help the start-ups or other private or public entities to enhance their performance and use the efficient resources. However, the companies who wish to commercially use the patent must apply to the respective authorities. It was a mandate for the companies to give their economic, technical and financial details which shall be at the discretion of the expert committee after due scrutinization. If the expert committee thinks that the organization shall use the patent in a positive and beneficial manner, then DRDO shall grant the patent to the organization for a period of one year. Therefore, it was a practice for social as well as organizational benefit for others.
It is quite evident that the innovation and inventions must be protected at any costs to enable the creator to have exclusive rights. It helps the company or the person to avoid any misuse or abuse of the invention as well as allow the innovator to establish himself/herself in the market. Gaining a market share is a motive of many companies and innovators. However, sometimes, the intellectual property rights may be so stringent that they eliminate all the possibilities of any commercial exploitation or further use. It ultimately leads to lack of creativity. The step taken by DRDO by allowing certain organizations to use its patent at no price is an example of how the companies and organizations can help the society in many ways. Some small-scale companies or start-ups might not be able to use these patents by paying certain royalty and therefore, lack efficiency. Some enterprises may not even have sufficient resources for research & development and thus, fail to make any innovation or invention. Such steps must be appreciated and taken up organizations, especially those engaged in R&D. Thus, the indigenous companies might get benefits from such steps and enhance their capabilities.