Women And Intellectual Property Law

All women have different experiences, and it is difficult to generalize those experiences into a specific perspective shared by every women. There is growing evidence of the fact that women are grossly betrayed in the field of IP laws and hence, are subjugated to an inferior position in the legal domain. Unfortunately, the IP law has dramatically failed to create a large group of women creators, thus making it an exclusive domain of the male gender in society. What history reveals is that in the legal genre, many of the formal roles might be associated to women. If not exclusive to men, but still much of the creative occupations such as art forms, literature, engineering, scientist, and musician were dominated by men. This is a gross form of inequality in society. On the one hand, our supreme law of the land, i.e. the Constitution envisages the Right to Equality under Articles 14 to 18, specifically Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution; whereas on the other hand, the society itself traps the women into her narrow web by cabining, confining and cribbing her to the four walls of the household. Intellectual Property law, as it developed, followed such social prohibitions.

As noted by Professor Shelly Wright, “Copyright historically encompassed the ‘fine arts’  such as sculpture, painting, literature, and music- fields that were male-dominated if not exclusively masculine, with “crafts” such as knitting, needlework, quilting and other “domestic” fiber arts until relatively and recently excluded from the canon of copyrightable manner.  Women are subjected to inferior position. Stronger intellectual property laws can give recognition to women’s identity and can help alleviate this discrepancy. Every year we celebrate 26th April as World Intellectual Property Day to spread knowledge and make people aware of intellectual property law that involves patents, trademarks and copyright. The year 2018 was significant in the sense that the theme for 2018 was “Powering Change: Women in Innovation and Creativity.” This highly reflects the motto that even World Intellectual Property Organization, one of the 15 specialized agencies of the United States has also emphasized on the need for bridging the gender gap in society, thereby shaping the role of women and the future of society.

“Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.” This explicitly shows that a woman also has the equal right to gain recognition for their own creation. A woman has enormous inventions. The protection of IP rights restores this financial incentive to create and innovate by giving owners and content creators exclusive power over their creations. Statistics is a very unruly horse. Once you astray into it, you never know where it goes. Also, given the fact that every important policies are made through statistical survey, statistics have clearly proved that the stronger the countries with IP rights, more are the more measures of stronger gender equality.

“Women in the economy are a powerful force for change and leadership. Intellectual Property Rights when used correctly can advance entrepreneurship by enabling women who develop innovative ideas and products to secure financing, signal their innovation, and negotiate access to the IPRs held by others. IP systems should recognize and protect creativity in all forms, including contributions from traditional and indigenous knowledge developed by women.

A strong and effective intellectual property statute is indeed quintessential given the fact that without such legal sanction, innovation is stifled. The intellectual owners lose a large portion of their incentive to create profit. Creative works would indeed be infringed upon; such work would be reproduced without needing the creator’s permission and sold without compensating the creator.

We all know that India is a developing country. Weak IP regimes and unreliable enforceability of the rule of law have allowed the growth of counterfeit products to reach alarming rates of 2.5% of global trade is now thought to be in counterfeit products. 80% of the counterfeit products infringe on the rights of the European Union and U.S. businesses. What is more alarming is that the European Union (EU) is losing almost 83 billion Euros every year and 7, 90,000 jobs due to counterfeiting and piracy.

Now, this is something horrible and needs to be taken up seriously. If due to piracy, the inventions of the male community are infringed upon, can we just assume that the invention, design and creation of the women are aptly protected and be given recognition to provide them identity and status in society? India is the seventh largest country in the world and the second most populated country. Be it mentioned that India also does not have a strong Intellectual property Rights statute too. It is indeed true that we have a number of statutes like The Copyrights Act, 1957; The Trademarks Act, 1999; Patents Act, 1970 along with Patent Rules, 2003, yet we do not have constitutional sanctions behind our Intellectual Property law.

In such a scenario, it can exacerbate already disparate living conditions for women. India being a developing country has a higher level of female unemployment, higher infant mortality rates as well as lower female education rates. Investments in IP laws can raise per capita GDP income and improve the standard of living for all. The country protecting IP laws are those countries are also those countries which have the best entrepreneurial environment for women.

Subham Chatterjee

Subham Chatterjee is a penultimate year law student from Tezpur Law College, Assam. Apart from excelling in academics, he has presented papers in national seminars, contributed chapters in edited books published internationally. He also brought accolades by winning Moot Court Competition, Client counselling competition and Quiz Competitions apart from participating in various competitions. He has recently authored an ISBN book 'Land Laws of Assam: A Reference Book for the students of Gauhati University" He is also a trained Hindustani Classical (Vocal) and Rabindra Sangeet singer.

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