Innovation is the essence of research and it is the fuel that keeps the research industry going. If it were not for inventions, the field of scientific research would have dropped dead long ago.

However, simply innovating something is not sufficient. It is not the end of the road, but the beginning of it. Therefore, I feel, If one is to reap the benefits of his/her invention, then protecting an innovation is a must so that it is not misused or copied.

Why you should protect your innovation

You might think that just by publishing your work, it is protected. But this isn’t so. For example, let’s say company A discovers a new drug molecule, X. They don’t file a patent, but instead publish all their results. Then company B learns about the drug, makes slight modifications to the structure of the molecule and patents it. So even though it was company A’s work, B took the profit.

The above example is just one reason why you should protect your inventions. So in this article, I will discuss IPR (intellectual property rights).

But before that, let’s understand what actually is intellectual property?

What is Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Intellectual property refers to the property of one’s intellect. That is, the creation of one’s mind– be it artistic or literary work, design, symbol etc.

IPR refers to the legal rights that are given to an individual, entity, or an organization over one’s creation by the government. These rights are territorial and exclusive in nature and helps protect one’s innovation for a fixed duration of time.

IPR is what promotes innovation. It gives a sense of security that encourages flow of knowledge and information.

There are several types of IPR, namely,

  • Patent
  • Copyright
  • Geographical indications
  • Trademarks
  • Trade secrets
  • Industrial designs
  • Protection of plant varieties and farmers.

In the field of scientific research, we generally deal with issues of patents and copyrights. So I’ll be discussing these with reference to research.


A patent protects an ‘idea’. It refers to the rights that are granted to an inventor in lieu of the public disclosure of the invention concerned. The criteria for an invention to be patentable are:

  • Novelty
  • Inventive step
  • Industrial applicability

If you think you have invented something that meets the patentability criteria, then first file a patent application and then publish work. This will safeguard your interest.

You must first file the patent in your own country and then you can get the maximum benefit by filing simultaneously in multiple countries through a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application.


Copyright is a more familiar term to us than patent. You have probably come across the term while writing research papers, your thesis or dissertation and grants.

Copyright is nothing but the right that creators have over their creation (literary work in case of scientific research).

For copyright, the originality of the work is important and not novelty. So two people can have copyright over a similar creation.

Intentionally or unintentionally, you could end up copying a piece of writing, or a few lines from here or there, leading to copyright infringement and consequent plagiarism. This is especially easy when doing research on the internet (cut and paste is easy to use!).

To avoid this, be aware of what information from the internet can be used and how to use it:

  • All the information taken from books, papers or the internet must be cited properly in your text
  • Copyrighted information cannot be used without permission from the copyright holder
  • You can only use information that is available freely in the public domain or whose copyright has either expired or been forfeited
  • The information covered under a creative commons license can be used freely

Note: You can usually find out whether the information is covered under copyright or the creative commons license by looking on the respective website.

I am sure that this basic information about IPR will help protect your interest and that of others!!

More by

More 'Writing, Publishing and Presenting' articles

One Comment

  1. It’s interesting that you need to first file a patent application, then it will be safeguarded. My brother is wanting to have a startup tech company and wants to make sure he isn’t violating any patent laws. I’ll have to help him find a good lawyer that can prevent that for him.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.