Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
In India, concern for the protection of intellectual properties took place way back in 1911 through the Indian Design Act. Since then laws (Indian Patent Act, 1970 and its amendments) were enacted for the protection of various intellectual properties. However, the subject matter of intellectual property did not receive attention in agricultural sector, although scientists and farmers have been developing new plant varieties for almost the entire part of our agricultural history. World over, the development of new crop varieties on a scientific basis began only in the last 50 years, following the establishment of the science of Genetics. The entry of genetics into plant breeding resulted in major advances culminating in the development of high yielding hybrids and varieties. Indian agriculture witnessed the arrival of hybrids and high yielding crop varieties in the 1960s, during the Green Revolution. New varieties offered farmers a far higher yield and profit than traditional varieties. Naturally, the seeds of these varieties were in high demand. Seed saving and sharing by farmers met most of the demand, while the public and private seed supply systems met the rest. There was no demand for ownership on plant varieties during the days of the Green Revolution, when the seeds of many high yielding varieties created by scientists were in high demand. For agricultural sector, it was a kind of anathema, mainly because the Indian Patent Act 1970 clearly prohibited patenting of methods of agriculture and horticulture. However, intellectual property protection has received enormous attention since 1986 when it was included in the Uruguay Round of Talks and particularly when Dunkel’s Proposal relating to GATT (General Agreement om Tarriff and Trade) was published in 1991.
Attention got focused when the Uruguay Round of the GATT Agreement was reached in 1994 and World Trade Organization was created in 1995. However, the concern for the protection of intellectual property rights was not limited at the WTO only. In fact, Food and Agriculture Organization, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties (UPOV) were also seized with the issues of intellectual property protection associated with biological resources. These international concerns paved the way for raising a systematic concern for the protection of intellectual properties in agricultural sector in India.
Eight types of IPRs have been discussed in the TRIPs (Trade Related Intellectual property Rights)Agreement.These are: (i) Copyrights (ii) Trademarks (iii) Geographical Indications (iv) Designs (v) Patents (vi) Layout Designs of Integrated Circuits (vii) Protection of Undisclosed information or trade secret and (viii) Protection of Plant Varieties or Sui Generis system. Of these systems, five IPR systems are more related to agriculture. These are:
Plant Variety Protection and Farmers Right,
Geographical Indications and