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On April 26, 1970 the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) Convention came into force. The WIPO is one of the sixteen specialized agencies of the United Nations having 189 member states. In 2000, WIPO’s member states selected April 26 as the “World Intellectual Property Day”. This year the world is celebrating the World IP Day with an objective of showing how innovation is making our lives healthier, safer and more comfortable by turning problems into progress. More to the point as how intellectual property system supports innovation by attracting investment, rewarding creators, encouraging genius minds to develop their ideas and finally ensuring that tomorrow’s innovators can safely and systematically build on today’s new technology.

Though the journey of Intellectual Property Rights officially commenced in 1970, frustratingly true that Bangladesh, being a member of WIPO since 1985, is still struggling to create IP right awareness among its citizens. I addressed IP, in one of my previous articles, as the next corporate political mechanism to rule the world as IP mainly protects the ownership of ideas or collection of concepts. For example: a simple idea of creating a virtual social network system (Facebook) is now dominating the entire world and sooner Mr. Zuckerberg is going to be the world’s richest person.

Defining Intellectual Property (IP) is as simple as it really aspires to achieve. IP refers to creation of mind: inventions, literary & artistic works, symbols, names and images used for commercial identification. Generally, patents for inventions, trademarks and industrial designs are categorised under the head of industrial property. Similarly, copyrights and geographical indications are two other categories of IP. IP rights can offer protection to an individual owner as well as to an entire nation.

Suppose, you have an idea of inventing a new genre of rice that will provide some basic daily nutrition required by human body, which are not usually supplemented by natural rice. This invention has multi dimensional objectives i.e. it will help the entire human race, it will open an opportunity of doing fair business and also it may bring you rare reputation that can hardly be achieved. Now, to convert your idea into a physical shape you have to conduct sufficient research, shape up the components and finally set out the technology. If you want that this technology should not be used by anyone without your consent then this is an ideal situation when IP rights interfere. Your such a novel and useful invention is well protected as your patent right. However, in its next step you want to introduce your invention commercially to the local and international market in the name: “MentorIP Rice” and you want that no other business entity except yours will use the name mentorIP rice! IP mechanism still protects you under the head of “Trademark” and “Industrial Design” Rights. Your business name, images, logos and symbolic writing style etc. are protected under trademarks. On the other hand, product designs and shapes, packaging style, design of marketing materials etc. are protected under industrial designs.

However, at a stage, you may want to let the world know about the story of your journey towards the successful invention and commercial exploitation of this new genre of rice and may attempt to publish a book. As soon as you are publishing the book it will fall under the protection of you IP right, as Copyright protects literary and artistic works in the mode of the original expression of ideas i.e. books, novels, dramas, paintings, computer programs, sketches, music, songs etc.

More interestingly, a state can also enjoy IP right protection against another state or individual. Recently, Bangladesh has raised a few IP claims against India i.e. Jamdani Sharee, Fazlee Mango etc. Such claims are made under Geographical Indications (GI) Rights. A GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. Since the qualities of some products depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production. Similarly, GI are typically used for agricultural products, foodstuffs, wine and spirit drinks, handicrafts and industrial products.

It must be stressed that in order to get IP protection, saving some exceptions in copyrights, one must have one’s registration certificate first. The ministry of Industries mainly plays the role of registering authority through the Department of Patent, Design and Trademarks (DPDT) which has organised day long programs for celebrating World IP Day, 2017. Conversely, Bangladesh Copyright Office solely controls the copyright registration affairs.

Nevertheless, above all, in this era of globalization, IP law assume much importance as the advanced industrial societies are undergoing a fundamental transformation from capital and labor based economics into knowledge based economics. We have no option left but getting aware of our IP rights. To protect your IP rights, make sure that your employment agreements, licenses, sales contracts and technology transfer agreements etc. protects your intellectual property too. File your registration application as fast as you can!

Author: Shaleh Akram Somrat

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