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Perspective of Theories on Intellectual Property Rights

Author: Deobrat S. Gaur

Designation: B.COM LL.B (H) Student, UPES Dehradun

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Intellectual Property Rights are basically rights over impalpable or intangible property that is a by product of creativity, such as such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce; and types of IPR are patents, copyrights, trade marks, etc.

As observed by Professor William Fisher, of Harvard University, the term "intellectual property" refers to a loose cluster of legal doctrines that regulate the uses of different sorts of ideas and insignia. Thus, the subject, in itself, makes it inseparable from the jurisprudence. For the sound and potent understanding of the Intellectual property , it becomes utmost pertinent to analyse the several theories that justifies the Intellectual property(ies).


This theory has played a quintessential role in structuring the state’s policy with respect to protection of intellectual property rights. The ideology behind the theory is basically that a person has a natural inherent right to enjoy the fruits which are the consequence of his intellectual labour.

John lock also called this theory as, the theory of ownership or the labour theory or the theory of unilateral appropriation which states that a person can employ his labour to create their rights over natural resource which creates a moral obligation upon others to respect these rights. It is based on the principle that like The labour of her body and the work of her hands belongs strictly to herself similarly the result which comes out from her intellect also belongs to her and should be respected.

Locke states that the nature has plentiful natural resources which have no sovereign. So as per him the person who exercise his/her labour to the resources has the right to appropriate it without anyone’s consent. the fact that the labour improves the value of the property empowers the person with some sort of desert claim over the property.

Locke also talks about the rights which the owner of property possesses.

  1. Right to use one’s property. owner of the property has the right to appropriate, consume, or use the property without causing any harm;

  2. Power to transfer the proper;

  3. The right to exclude others.


Utilitarianism is propounded, Jeremy Bentham: The utilitarian theory is based on the principle of maximum pleasure and minimum pain, or the greatest good for the greatest number of people., this theory argues that private property and its corollary, the free market will lead to increased productivity and that it would be maximally efficient at increasing social wealth. Utilitarian’s, usually favour the free market, since its efficiency allows for the greatest overall satisfaction of public. This theory strikes a balance between profits or benefits or wealth maximization or reward which is provided to the owner of intellectual property with the societal benefit, social welfare and the public good for the public.

The idea behind this theory is if a person makes an Invention then he should be rewarded for the same and also make sure that it should reach out to people, because if someone creates something the person would have fear that other will copy him, therefore, he should be provided with the reward so that the person gets encouraged by the disclosure of the same, he would be rewarded and would also get monopoly, but it is to be taken into consideration that the rights provided to the owner should not create a distress to the public due to the exclusive monopoly.

For example .

The idea behind placing the patents in the public domain after the term of duration is to make the patent holder exercise the right without causing any harm to the others in the society.


This theory is propounded by Hegel , kant and Fisher, it is based on the justification that the intellectual property is the manifestation of one’s own personality or the intellectual property is extension of an individuals personality.

Personality refer to the distinctness of a person and the internal cognitive and motivational processes that influence behaviour. For example, intelligence, temperament, habits, skills, attitudes, and traits.

This theory justifies that if one’s artistic expressions are synonymous with one’s personality, then similarly the expression also deserve the same protection just as much as the physical person who is deserving protection. Hegel state that the intellectual works are substantial reflection of the original creator’s unique personality.

This theory upholds the fact that the rights on property, tangible or intangible, should be controlled exclusively by the owner. If an idea is created by a person and which is brought to fruition, the creation is considered an extension of the person. This theory puts the creators personality or will as the primary motivation behind rights that he can exercise upon his creation. This theory affords privacy to the creator , and it is upon the author to decide who can be given permission to use his work.










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