Intellectual property has always existed since the dawn of time but there were no laws in place for their protection. Intellectual property is intangible asset, be it music, creative writing, arts, discoveries, inventions and development of unique words, symbols and artwork. Intellectual property rights is a generic term that covers copyright, industrial design, trade secrets, proprietary formulations, writing, music, dance, patents, trademarks and even trade dresses.

Intellectual property is the outcome of the efforts of the mind of an individual expressed in creative forms that are tangible or intangible such as art or music or unique concepts that may appeal to a higher aesthete as in arts, lead to innovations and inventions furthering economic development or even bettering health and living conditions of people.

Intangible asset can be translated or transformed into tangibles such as authorship of books, prints of paintings, music CDS and records and so on. An idea could lead to design leading to invention of a device, which is another example. As can be seen, intellectual property is wide in gamut and if any laws are developed and implemented they need to be comprehensive in nature and vast in scope to cover the entire spectrum. This effort on the part of individuals or organizations needs to receive reward by conferring a legal status and rights much as in the way real estate or assets are valued.

Nations across the world have developed some form of intellectual property rights to safeguard creators and grant them sole and exclusive rights for a certain period of time. It entitles them to claim monetary compensation for use of their creations and protection in the event anyone violates the law. There are limitations too in the extent of protection available. Going further, intellectual property can be considered as material to be bought and sold.

Nebulous in nature, intellectual property rights began to take concrete form during the 19th century but it was not until the 20th century that the British Statute of Anne 1710 and Statute of Monopolies 1623 established the foundations of patents and copyright leading to further progress. Once in the domain of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), it also became part of World Trade Organization (WTO) charter. TRIPS agreement of WTO incorporates minimum standards to be incorporated in member states’ laws.

WIPO Convention 1967, Art 2(viii) defines Intellectual Property as the rights covering creations in literary, artistic, scientific and technological fields including performances, photographs, broadcasts, industrial design, trademarks, logos, service marks, names, designations and virtually all creations that emanate from the human mind and have significant value that can be commercialized.

IP can cover biology and biotechnology and it takes into consideration not only new ones that are being introduced but also established and age old techniques and technologies, some of which are wrongfully appropriated as in the case of age old herbal usage that companies are grabbing in order to derive commercial benefit. To be more precise, intellectual property while denoting something intangible, seeks to make it tangible and define it and then grant right and protection to the creator. Intellectual property rights for a specific creation belong solely to that individual or corpus body and confer rights on them to exploit such development while excluding or prohibiting anyone else from making any use of it. Its scope and the nature make intellectual property rights tangentially different from rights and laws pertaining to tangible assets.