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The Balance Between Traditional Intellectual Property Rights And Open Access Initiatives

By - King Stubb & Kasiva on September 22, 2023


Intellectual property Rights, as the name suggests, refer to those intangible rights that are available to individuals over their intellectual creations such as scientific inventions, technological developments, artistic and literary works along with other personal works which are the creation of the artist’s mind. The rationale behind the protection of intellectual property rights exists in order to prevent any third party from unlawfully infringing upon the creations of the artist.

The intellectual property rights can further be divided into numerous sub – categories such as Patents governed by Indian Patents Act, 1970; Copyrights governed by Copyrights Act of 1957; Trade Marks governed by the Trade – Marks Act, 1999; along with numerous miscellaneous intellectual properties such as Trade Designs, Trade Secrets et cetera.

The term ‘Open Access Initiatives’ refers to the process of sharing research ideas, developmental plans and other research-based resources with the general public at large without any cost or other associated barriers. This is done after the original creator or owner of the intellectual property rights either waives his right upon his intellectual property or decides to retain them but makes them freely available for the benefit of the general public. However, in many cases, the holder of intellectual property may ask for a voluntary contribution, subsidies or funding in order to generate revenue and sustain operations.

The rationale and objective behind such open access initiatives is that there should be no discrimination for access to knowledge among those who have monetary resources and those who do not. Moreover, the research and development in the fields of science and technology may lead to the generation of resources for the common benefit of mankind which in – turn would also establish solutions for global concerns and enable sharing and dissemination of information in order to create a barrier – free zone for researchers across the globe.

Balance Between Intellectual Property Rights And Open Access Initiatives

The concepts of protection of intellectual property rights and enabling open access initiatives are completely parallel to each other wherein the former enables the protection and security of intellectual property rights of a party while the open access initiatives enable the waiver of such rights by making various types of information and research – data available to everyone by foreclosure of legal barriers.

Moreover, the purpose of securing intellectual property rights through the process of registration revolves around the notion of increasing profits, preventing infringement, and making any unauthorised usage of such data and inventions illegal. This leads to non-access to inventions and technological developments for those who cannot afford it, especially charitable or non-governmental organizations which are not driven by the objective of earning profits. The open-access initiatives do not function on any such motives of profit and therefore, promote free flow of information across domains.

The need to draw a balance between these two overlapping concepts arises from the roots of public policy and economic growth. For instance, various business houses would lose their viability and profitability in the event of absence of a proper mechanism for protection and security of intellectual property. Additionally, organizations and individuals investing time and resources in research to science, technology and inventions would also be disincentivized to commit themselves towards further ventures of research. This would undoubtedly have a deeply negative impact on the development and growth of the economy especially in the science, defence, medicine and technology sectors.

Moreover, with numerous players facing absence of any proper mechanism for the protection of their interests in Intellectual Property, a deep cut on consumer interests would also be expected due to poor trends of developed products in the market due to the dipping profit concerns of enterprises.

On the other hand, it is an undoubted fact that open access initiatives would greatly benefit numerous enterprises, individuals, and organizations. For instance, absence of any intellectual property rights would enable players to copy and imitate the designs, ideas, and technologies of their rivals and therefore, lower down their cost of production or base their sales upon competitive pricing. This would lead to lowering the prices of goods and services, thereby promoting the interests of the individuals in the short run. In the medicine and pharmaceuticals sector, it would also lead to profound impacts on the prices of medicines and equipment due to the lack of any copyrights or patents upon them.

However, striking a proper balance between these two parallel approaches is completely a utopian idea that may not be possible to be achieved in totality. Various inventors, artists, researchers etc., may decide to develop various new commodities or services for the greater good of society but may not be able to willing or able to do so owing to the fact that there exists a very miniscule economic and financial incentive for doing so. Therefore, such ideas and developments may take a back – seat.


There are various domains in which open access initiatives may turn out to be useful for society at large. For instance, in the case of COVID – 19 Vaccines, it was decided by the international fraternity to forego their claims towards any intellectual property rights arising out of them. Such ideas and developments which may result in greater good to the society as compared to mere monetary benefits should be turned towards open access initiatives.

Similarly, various inventions, scientific developments and other technological works which may result in benefit to the developers without any infringement upon the rights of any party must be granted protection in order to further the demands and goals of private organizations and individual players.

Therefore, a careful balance can be achieved between the two conflicting and parallel interests which would result in the welfare of all the stakeholders of the market.


What are the objectives of open access?

Thus, the aim of open access is to make scholarly literature freely accessible and reusable for everyone – that is, free of charge and, as far as possible, free of technical and legal barriers.

Which intellectual property right is used in open source?

The Open-Source Initiative governs intellectual property (IP) rights of an open-source license and it must meet the following criteria: The licensee has the right to distribute and charge money for the program. He or she has access to and the right to modify the program's source code.

What is OSS for intellectual property?

Open-Source Software (OSS) is a term originated from the software industry to imply software which is released under a license through which the copyright owner grants users the rights to use, study, change, and distribute the software as well as its source code.

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