Astrophysics And Patents (Video) – Patent

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Astronomy is known as the oldest of sciences. Ever since the evolution of civilized mankind, what lies beyond the earthly skies has been an ecstatic topic. The origin of Astronomy and the beliefs and practices around it can be dated back to antiquity.

The mysteries of the celestial bodies are. Continuous advances and breakthroughs in cutting edge technology are made by scientists globally. Be it the race to land on the moon or the invention of satellites that probe deeper into space, every space organization wants to leave a mark by being the first. This is where Patents play a vital role in protecting these inventions and keeping the competitors at bay from making, using, or selling one’s intellectual property.

One of the things that first comes to our mind when we talk about Astronomy is the invention of a telescope. In 1608, a Dutch eyeglass maker named Hans Lippershey, claimed to have invented a device that could magnify the object image by three times. He was the first patent holder in a telescope, possibly making him one of the first patent holders in the field of Astronomy.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) who has been catching up in the space race, has had many heads turning towards it in recent years. Consisting of more than 270 patents, 45 copyrights and 10 trademarks, ISRO was recently granted another patent by the Indian Patent Office for manufacturing “made in India” Moon Soil. ISRO successfully replicated the lunar surface to test the Vikram lander and Pragyaan rover for the Chandrayaan 2 mission.

The European Space Agency (ESA) consists of 22 Member States is located all across Europe. They have over 130 inventions which are covered by 450 patents. ESA’s patent portfolio covers topics as diverse as antennae, satellite attitude control mechanisms, communication and mechanical systems, detectors, mechanical engineering, optical communications, power supplies and propulsion systems domain.

The National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), has recorded thousands of patents in its name till date, with over 1,600 active patents. NASA has had a long history of finding new, innovative uses for its space and aeronautics technologies. In 1964, NASA started its Technology Transfer Program to commercialize its products and services. This program enables NASA to spinoff about 50 technologies annually, to the private sector and the public at large. NASA offers a variety of patent licenses from no cost licenses to exclusive license. This program has been hugely hit in 2000, which provides solutions for challenges in the field of health, medicines, industrial production, communications, transportation, consumer goods, public safety etc.

Technological advances in the space industry for cardiovascular disease and breast cancer, water filters, scratch resistant lenses and of course Velcro.

A cloudless night sky, free of light pollution can offer a breathtaking view. The awe-inspiring and beautiful pictures of the luminous space objects have boosted the popularity of astrophotography over the years. Intellectual property rights extend its protection in this field by granting the owner / publisher copyrights for their creative work. These images may be licensed for commercial use.

Outer Space research and development is conspicuously expensive. To invest in private investments and research. This has led to an upsurge in the privatization of the space sector. Private companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin are aiming to commercialize space travel with their astonishingly futuristic technology. As these companies invest more time and money into space-based activities, they will no doubt seek to protect their investments. In particular, they may seek patent protection for their resulting intellectual property. Patents are territorial and can only be enforced within the jurisdiction of the granting government. Hence the logical questions arise – whose territory is space? How does one stop someone using their invention in space? Is it possible to obtain a ‘patent space’?

Ever since the launch of the first human satellite Sputnik1, international space laws are being laid out. “Outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to any claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means”. It is considered as a “Res Communis”, it is a public domain or public property. Now, to answer the question of what laws apply to inventions – Article VIII of the Outer Space Treaty states: over any personnel thereof, while in outer space or on a celestial body.

We are a long way from understanding the universe and all its mysteries. Even with its technological advancements, the space sector is still only in its infancy stage. Space provides the opportunity for our imagination to run wild and cultivate various innovative space ventures. The harmonized system of IPR regime for outer space should be developed and put into practice.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Patent Law in India

Anand & Anand

The Patents Act 1970, along with the Patents Rules 1972, came into force on the 20th April 1972, replacing the Indian Patents and Designs Act 1911. The Patents Act was mainly based on the recommendations of the Ayyangar Committee Report headed by Justice N. Rajagopala Ayyangar . One of the recommendations is a patent on the use of drugs, medicines, food and chemicals.


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