Frequently Asked Questions on Intellectual Property Rights and contribution of NIF towards the protection of IP of grassroots innovators
1. What is intellectual property?

The term intellectual property refers to creations or products of mind or intellect and it includes inventions, literary and artistic works, plant varieties, symbols, names, images, designs, trade secrets etc. The rights conferred on such intellectual property are known as intellectual property rights.

2. What all types of intellectual property rights are protected in India?

In India Patents, Copyright, Trade Marks, Industrial designs, Geographical Indications, Topographical designs of integrated circuits, Trade Secrets and Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights are protected

3. What is a patent?

A Patent is an intellectual property right relating to inventions. It is the grant of an exclusive right to the Patentee by the Government, for a limited time period, in exchange of the disclosure of his invention, for excluding others from making, using, selling, importing the patented product or process producing that product for those purposes.

4. What is prior art search?

'Prior art' comprises all matters available to the public before the date of an innovation, through written or oral description or by use or by any other method. Any search done for identifying such prior art is known as prior art search.

5. As an innovator, do I need to do a prior art search?

Definitely yes. A prior search can help you prevent reinventing the wheel. A good prior art search will help you identify the real state of technology in the area of your innovation and you will be able to divert your attention to unattended areas or areas that require further refinement. It will also act as a navigator to identify the real scope of value addition, product development, protection of intellectual property rights, business development, diffusion through commercial or non-commercial channels of that innovation.

6. If I am granted a patent for my innovation in India, will I be able to get protection in other countries also?

No. Patent rights are territorial in nature. A patent granted in India will protect that innovation only in the territory of India.Similarly a US patent will protect the innovation only in US. If we want our innovation to get protected in US, we have to apply for US patent separately

7. Can I patent an idea?

Sorry! Ideas are not patentable. Once the idea of the nature of your innovation turns to a definite shape, you can file a provisional patent application.

8. What is a trade mark?

A trade mark is a visual symbol, which may be a word, signature, name, device, label, numerals or combination of colours on goods or services or other articles of commerce, which can help in distinguishing goods or services originating from one source from that of other sources.

9. What is copyright?

Copyright is a bundle of rights granted to the creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings and these rights include, rights of reproduction, communication to the public, adaptation and translation of the work.

10. Can I protect a plant variety developed by me?

Yes. India has recently enacted Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act to afford protection to plant varieties and also to farmer's rights.

11. What all plant varieties are protected in India at present?

The 12 crop species notified by the PPVFR authority so far are Black gram, Bread wheat, Chickpea, Field pea, Green gram, Kidney bean, Lentil, Maize, Pearl millet, Pigeon pea, Rice, Sorghum

12. Can I protect a unique design developed by me?

Yes, designs are protected under the Designs Act 2000. 'Design' according to this legislation includes features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation or composition of lines or colour or combination thereof, applied to any article, whether two dimensional or three dimensional or in both forms, by any industrial process or means, whether manual, mechanical or chemical, separate or combined, which in the finished article appeal to and are judged solely by the eye. But please note that it does not include any mode or principle or construction or anything which is in essence a mere mechanical device. It also does not include any trade mark

13. What are Geographical Indications?

A geographical indication is a sign to be used on goods having a specific geographical origin and whose qualities or reputation is attributable to its place of origin. For example, there are many agricultural products having unique qualities deriving from their place of production, under the influence of specific local factors like weather, soil etc. Some of the good examples in this regard are Darjeeling tea, Patola silk, Kanjeepuram silk, etc.

14. Is there any protection available for lay out designs of integrated circuits?

Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout Designs Act 2000 is intended to afford protection for the lay out designs of integrated circuits in India.

15. What are trade secrets? Is that mode of protection suitable for me as an innovator?

The term 'trade secret' refers to any information developed by spending time and resources, which is unknown to competitors and the possession of which gives an advantage over such competition. One of the often quoted examples is the formula for the manufacture of Coca-Cola. The main advantage of trade secrets protection is that you don't have to reveal the technical information to the public. But the same act as the major limitation for this type of protection, as this form of protection is suitable only for those innovations wherein you can hide the technical details.

16. What can NIF do for protecting my intellectual property?

NIF is committed to the protection of the valuable intellectual property of grassroots innovators. Through the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Form sent to you, we seek your view on the protection of intellectual property rights over your invention. If you express your interest in having an intellectual property protection over your innovation, our IP management team will assist you in filing the application. The expenses for filing the application will be borne by NIF and the application will be in your name.

17. Who all are eligible for getting help from NIF in the matter of protection of their intellectual property?

All grassroots innovators who have sent entries to our award competitions are entitled to seek intellectual property protection for their inventions. However, the final decision to go ahead with intellectual property protection is taken by NIF and the same is determined on the basis of analysis of the novelty of the invention and also the commercial as well as social potential of the invention.

18. In whose name NIF files patent applications? In my name or in the name of NIF?

NIF files the patent applications in your name. We are just the facilitators in this process.

19. Do I need to pay money to NIF for filing application in my name?

Absolutely NOT. As an organisation established with the primary objective of promoting and scaling up of grassroots innovations, NIF files the patent application for the grassroots innovators free of charge.

20. What is PIC Form and where can I get the PIC Form from?

The term 'PIC' stands for Prior Informed Consent. This form, evolved through years, is more or less like a questionnaire through which you express your decisions on many matters like Value Addition, IPR protection and Commercialisation of your innovation. Our team will help you in understanding the implications of every clause in PIC form.

21. Will NIF go for protecting my intellectual property, without getting a signed PIC from me?

No. NIF will proceed for IPR protection only after receiving your consent through Prior Informed Consent Form.

22. Do I need to send an entry for the NIF award competitions to be eligible for getting intellectual property protection through NIF?

Yes you have to.

23. What all things should I disclose to NIF for becoming eligible for getting intellectual property protection through NIF?

The first and foremost thing is complete disclosure of your educational and professional qualifications, for the purpose of determining whether you belong to grassroots category. Second and equally important thing is to disclose all the technical information relating to your innovation.

24. Is it safe to give a lawyer Power of Attorney, as I saw on Indian patent website that if one has to file a patent through a lawyer, one has to give him POA for filling? What if my lawyers misuse that and sell my invention without intimating me?

As per the Patents Act, you are required to provide a power of attorney (PoA) to your lawyer, if you want him to represent you. The PoA format for this purpose is given as Form 26 (under patents Act 1970 and patent rules 2003) and it merely authorise him to act on your behalf during the patent prosecution process, before the patent office. So its ambit is limited. Hence there is nothing to worry in giving PoA for filing your application. Moreover, if the lawyer indulges in any unlawful act with respect to your PoA, you can always approach the Bar Council of India for redressal.

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