April 13, 2000, Metallica sued Napster, a peer-to-peer file-sharing platform for copyright infringement. Lars Ulrich, the drummer for Metallica, found their entire copyrighted discography was available for free download on Napster’s platform. Later, the band sought a minimum of $10 million in damages, because they had intellectual property rights over their creations.

Over the years, Intellectual Property (IP) has grown tremendously, and now it’s one of the most vital elements for a freelancer. 

The Copyright Act 1957, Patents Act 1970, Trade Marks Act 1999 are some of the essential laws in India that every freelancer should know about. According to them, anybody who violates the statutes can be severely punished or fined. 

What is intellectual property for freelancers? 

Intellectual property (IP) for freelancers is generally the work created by them during the tenure of their contract with an organisation. IP can be referred to as an invention, design, brand or any other creation that an individual or business has legal rights over. 

What are the types of Intellectual Property? 

Here are a few examples of familiar IPs: 

Trademarks – It safeguards logos, signs, language or tonality that differentiates your offerings from that of others

Copyright – This segment always is often controversial. Copyright law protects your original music, background scores, scripts, book, web content or any creative work. However, a mere creation doesn’t make something copyrightable. For example, an original written work needs to be published to qualify as copyright material. Ideas, facts, concepts etc. won’t fit under this segment

Patents – Often, businesses patent their innovations because someone else might do the same. Any new solution, creation, process, software and product design business product fall under this category

Designs – Protects artwork, product design, workflow, and more

Apart from the above, there’s one crucial form known as ‘Trade Secret’. For example, Coca-cola has a trade secret of not disclosing the secret ingredient of its beverage. 

How to protect your Intellectual Property? 

If you are a permanent employee of an organisation, your work is owned by the employer, but as a freelancer, whatever you create belongs to you, ethically. 

To be the legitimate owner of your work, you need to understand your rights. So, before you jump into the bandwagon, as a freelancer, you must clarify how intellectual property should be taken care of. 

For example, are you handing over the licence of your work to the client? Or are you submitting the copyright of your work to the client? 

If you register your Intellectual Property, you’ll be recognised for your work, and get royalties for your work. Yes, you can sue, too. This includes designs, patents, trademarks, copyrights and more. 

In India, you need to register your Intellectual Property with the Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. 

Remember, be the first to apply for registration. 

How to register for Intellectual Property rights in India? 

To avoid unnecessary legal hassles and enjoy your rights, it is mandatory to register your Intellectual Property. 

Trademark – Regulation of Trademarks in India is governed under the Trademarks Act, 1999, which abides with the World Trade Organization recommendations and Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement.

Copyright – The Copyright Act, 1957 (the ‘Act’) came into effect from January 1958. The Act has been amended five times: 1983, 1984, 1992, 1994, 1999 and 2012. The Copyright Act, 2012 is the most substantial.

Patents – A different ball game, Patent for a product or process should be a unique or new invention and has not been used in the public domain. 

Design – As per the Wings of the Patents Office, India, an industrial design refers to the aesthetic aspects of an article. For example, shape or surface, 3D or 2D patterns, lines or colours. 

The most important way to avoid any difficulty while defending IP rights in India is to be prepared. Always ensure to create a contract, have a written agreement and negotiate your terms. 

After all, it’s your hard work. Don’t let it go in vain. 


When I'm not gushing over World of Warcraft or playing Witcher you'll find me strumming my six strings and minting rhymes.

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