Nature and Scope of Intellectual Property Law: An Appraisal of Concepts, Issues and Prospects for Developing Economies

By Mukhtar, Nasiru | Journal of Politics and Law, June 2013 | Go to article overview

Nature and Scope of Intellectual Property Law: An Appraisal of Concepts, Issues and Prospects for Developing Economies


Mukhtar, Nasiru, Journal of Politics and Law


Abstract

The relevance of Intellectual Property protection to our day to day activities has been repeatedly shown to be a settled matter. Humanity seems bent on creating a world economy primarily based on goods and services that take no material form or shape. And just as nature of property changes, so is the system of its exploitation. This paper looks at the evolution, nature and scope of the traditional fields of Intellectual Property Law that seek to protect the rights of inventors and authors to control or exclude others from unauthorised exploitation of their mental creations. The body of laws that evolve to provide this protection has unequivocally developed in to essential jurisprudence that is necessary for economic advance of the developed and more especially the developing countries. Although intellectual property systems vary from one national system to another, the basic principles of intellectual property law and practice seem to be the same in a number of ways, and thus, the paper attempts a general overview of the concepts and issues involved in this branch of law as well as the myriad of functions they strive to serve. It has been shown that the indispensable nature of intellectual property make it imperative to all stakeholders to work towards a healthy intellectual property system that will provide access to knowledge , experience and expertise that results to mutual benefit to all.

Keywords: intellectual property, copyright, patents, trademarks, design rights, world intellectual property organisation

1. Introduction

The term Intellectual Property covers "Patents", which gives temporary protection to technological inventions; (Note 1) "Designs", to the appearance of mass produced goods;(Note 2), and of course, "Copyrights" which gives longer-lasting rights in, for instance literary, artistic, musical creations,(Note 3) and the protection of Trademarks against imitation so long at least, as they continue to be employed in trade increasingly upon their superior corpus of new knowledge and fashionable conceits.(Note 4). As a result, there has recently been a great deal of political and legal activity designed to assert and strengthen the various types of protection for ideas as we shall see in the later part of this paper.

Intellectual property law is a legal concept that protects the creations of human ingenuity, its statutory provision dates back to one of the most important pieces of legislation in this field-namely the Paris Convention of 1883 which called itself the Paris Convention for the protection of industrial property and Art. 1(2) tells us that:

protection of industrial property has as its objects patents, unity models, industrial design, trademarks, service marks, trade name, indication of the sources as appellation of origin and the repression of unfair-competition (Note 5).

It is however apparent from the definition above that copyright is conspicuously absent in the lists and its addition gives rise to a broader term of Intellectual Property as it has come to be known. There are two statutory definitions of the subject matter that are worth mentioning in this introductory discussion.

Firstly, S.75(5) of the Supreme Court Act (l98l) as amended by the Copyrights Act (1988) provides that:

Intellectual property means any patent, trade mark, copyright, design right, registered right, technical or commercial information or other intellectual property (Note 6).

Secondly, it is obvious that the above definition attempts to exemplify some types of intellectual property. The term is however generally defined by World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) as:

Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind: inventions; literary and artistic works; and symbols, names and images used in commerce (Note 7)

2. The Nature of Protectable Rights

The notion of propriety rights in respect of abstract things that are far from being property per se, is the major preoccupation of intellectual property. …

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