IP Rights And Outer Space


Exploring, understanding, and making use of the universe beyond Earth has long been a goal of technological development in the area of space exploration. As these innovations are increasingly a private or commercial affair rather than a state managed endeavour, problems of Intellectual Property Rights controlling them have lately come to the fore. Having one's innovations safeguarded is crucial to their overall success. The need for these kinds of protections has increased tremendously as people become more aware of their significance.

IP Right and Outer Space

Ip Rights And Outer space

The following are some examples of intellectual property safeguards that might be applied to space-based technologies:

i. Secrets of Trade

Organizations that develop, produce, and use their own space technology without outside assistance may use trade secrets to safeguard their innovations. In this context, "material, non-public information" is knowledge that is either currently being utilised or might be used in the future to provide the company an economic advantage.

ii. Patents

When an innovation is really original and has not been done before, a patent is issued. During a certain amount of time, patent law typically allows the creator to keep others from making, using, or selling their patented creation. Your innovation needs three things in order to be successful:

1. Inventions must be original before they may be considered.

2. For an invention to be considered novel, it must not be immediately evident how to implement it, or how to improve upon prior versions of the invention.

3. The innovation needs to be of benefit to humankind.

A Remote Sensing Satellite's whole technological process for collecting raw data from orbit has been trademarked. Every satellite used for remote sensing employs some kind of novel and novel-to-the-world technology that is, by definition, patentable. When an innovation is utilised or violated upon in space, questions of patent law emerge.

Earth Invention with Space Application

The answer to this question is straightforward: the system of patent of the nation in which the innovation was created will be used, and the patent will be issued in that nation alone. Following that, the item in space may be sent into space in accordance with the many international treaties and other norms that govern space travel. Solar panels on the "International Space Station (ISS)" are an illustration of an idea produced on earth that was implemented in space, as would be the case with Virginia Galactica.

• Space Invention and Earth Application

The answer to this question is a little bit complicated due to the fact that it is not realistically feasible to establish which jurisdiction will have applicability on innovations connected to outer space when they are made outside of the geographical borders of the nation. There is no definitive response to this question as of this moment; nonetheless, there should be registration of patents by the inventors with the patents officer of the nation whose services they are employing, or for any other reason that is practical for them, in case there is a disagreement over ownership of their work.

Invented in Space and applied in Space

Since it deals with the concept of innovations that are not only manufactured in space but are also employed there, this topic has the potential to be quite difficult to understand. Because there are no proper controls in space that can evaluate the infringment that occurs when an invention is used in space, such inventions are more likely to be infringed upon. Even if an act of infringement is determined to have occurred, there will be challenges associated with the application of laws to the situation.

Clarifying these uncertainties and safeguarding inventors' rights by giving incentives for them to keep working will assist to stimulate creativity and exploration. Because there is still some uncertainty around the patent law in regards to space, this would be beneficial to clear up. Establishing patent law in space would eliminate the possibility of space enterprises being disadvantaged owing to the jurisdiction in which they are registered.

iii. Trademarks

The primary function of a trademark is to serve the purpose of defending the reputation of a company's goods and services from counterfeiters. In order for trademarks to perform their function as source identifiers in the market, they need to be unique and distinguishable. Words, symbols, color combinations, and other combinations of elements may all be used as trademarks.

In spite of the fact that it involves trademarks and space, there haven't been too many problems with it. Yet, the trademark's ability to resist violation in outer space won't last for much longer at this rate. Trademarks for goods and services used in space need to have the appropriate level of protection in order to avoid confusion and the spread of the innovation, as well as to provide third parties with the ability to identify the invention from others of its kind.

As the Space Act cannot be enforced outside of the United States, NASA is required to develop a portfolio of trademarks that may be used in other countries despite the fact that the Act does not apply there. It is EU registered in addition to seven other countries, some of which include “Canada, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom”.

Since NASA is such a well-known and respected institution, it is essential for private businesses to attempt to capitalise on the agency's positive reputation. At this point, the function of a trademark takes on an extremely significant importance. Companies won't be able to use the NASA logo on their products because of the trademark. For example, if “BLUE ORIGIN” of Bezos wants to use “the logo of INSIGNIA of NASA on their products of space (Rocket, Spacecraft), they can't do it directly because it would violate NASA's rights. However, if they get prior permission from the massive organisation, they can use the logo.

This is one way that companies and organisations participating in space exploration may guard their brand, the goodwill that is connected with their mark, and their reputation in the space industry.

iv. Copyrights

Copyrights are able to provide protection for both the transmission and receiving of data from satellites. Since the 1960s, there has been a growing concern on a global scale over how to prevent illicit interception and exploitation of copyrighted materials that are delivered through satellite. There is a significant lack of sufficiency in regard to the same. These kinds of copyright difficulties are also possible to arise from the technology of direct broadcast satellite. The "Brussels Satellite Convention" was developed specifically to address this shortcoming, which led to its namesake city's name.

As is readily apparent, no IP Rights can be alleged yet in Space as such because it is traditionally considered to be the shared mankind’s heritage. In addition, the prerequisites provided the OST, which stipulates the information exchange of the advantages of what is obtained from Space, mean that individual rights are a long way from being taken up. It is only possible for a person or country to have unique rights over an item if that thing has been launched into space. According to what was said before, this particular feature is governed by "Article VIII of the Outer Space Treaty," which states that the launching State is required to register the object, and as a result of this, will have authority over it. In situations in which there are multiple states that are responsible for launching an item, it is up to the parties involved to choose and decide which one ought to have authority and right over the object. Even if the innovation has been registered and is protected by the laws of the country in which it was created, the legislation that is to regulate the use of such an innovation is still a significant grey area.

Ip Safeguard In Outer Space

"Article II of the Outer Space Treaty" is the most is the clause of maximum importance as it differentiates between outer space and the relevant objects that are launched into space. "Article VIII of the Outer Space Treaty" stipulates that the object that is launched into space must be in accordance with the treaty. In addition, the Registration Convention establishes a regulation for who is responsible for registering a space object in cases where there are multiple potential launch states and the launch register must be chosen between them. In addition, if an object is registered and propelled into space by one country, the Agreement on “the Convention on the Extension of the Territorial Jurisdiction of the Intellectual Law” permits the authority of each country or region to extend to include the listed country. The enforcement of intellectual property rights in connection with inventions that were developed in outer space but are also employed in one or more territories of the Earth is, in general, controlled by the legislation of whatever country or area is connected with the matter at hand.

Violation of IP Rights shall be treated in space as if it had taken place on the territory of that nation, in accordance with quasi territoriality rules based on space objects with a matter of jurisdiction and questions based on the application of law with regard to the space object.

The permission on the patent in effect in this territory is not required if a ship, aeroplane, or ground vehicle enters another country briefly or by accident with a patented innovation on board; a provisional licence will be provided to that nation for the right at issue. . This is due to the fact that, in the interest of the public, a limitation of the monopoly rights granted by patent is permitted under "Article 5 of the Paris Treaty."

As stated in Article 5 of the Paris Convention, the "Doctrine of Temporary Presence" is applied to spacecraft as well, despite the fact that this provision specifically mentions only land vehicles, aircraft, and vessels at sea. Elements of a space station that are used during launch or reentry will be infringing on a patent even if they are temporarily located in a foreign nation. For this reason, spacecraft and other similar items are excluded from the scope of this clause.

Information on the temporary presence of an object that would be related to an activity in outer space was disclosed by the Intergovernmental Agency as required by Article 2.

Information was given out by the Intergovernmental Agency about the presence of an article for some time that will be connected to an activity in outer space, as specified in Article 21. “The article says that the first patent state cannot initiate legal action against the other states which are members or patent violation based on the other state member's element of the Space Flight system's temporary existence on the land of a partner state, which shall include the passage between any location on the planet's outermost layer and a constituent of the Space Flight system recognized by another partner state or ESA. This was discussed in relation to the time it takes to travel between any point on Earth's surface and a component of the Space Transportation system.”

It has been determined that the transport of the trademarked item to and from the International Space Station through a launching site does not violate the patent that is actionable in the jurisdiction of the launching site.

According to "Article 21(4) of the IGA," for making the IP Rights enforceable in space, there are several issues involved. Thus, there's a difference in the way the protection of these rights are eforced in European Nations. Additionally, it's equally tough to make them enforceable.

The provision that a partner cannot eforce its law concerning the confidentiality of invention to an invention that was made in the International Space Station or by another person who is not from that nationality in order to prohibit others from filing an application for a patent that contains information that is classified and on the premise of the national security interest of that said nation is stated under "Article 21(3) of IGA."

National laws require that patent law be implemented in the state first, and then the state of the originator or the state of the creation created due to concerns that a patent application filed abroad could expose a natural security innovation in a foreign country. The elements of the state that are party to the International Joint agreement that entail sharing and cooperation would be negatively affected if the member states imposed such a restriction on property rights upon the "International Space Station.".


With advancing times, an increased activities in space will and are taking place. This opens room for great number of opportunities for programs of innovations jointly by multi space partners and private entities. Thus, IP rights acquire a great deal of importance for inventions.

Thus, space activities are a tool for securing a socio-economic globally inclusive development and Intellectual Property and its protection is a driving and encouraging instruments for encouraging development and space exploration.

Author : Harsha Parakh, in case of any query, contact us at Global Patent Filing or write back us via email at support@globalpatentfiling.com.


• “Boeing and India's premier space agency to make satellites,” http://www.spacedaily.com/2004/040622102033.odq96mo6.html

• Space laws: What governs intellectual property rights in outer-space?: https://nickledanddimed.com/2022/05/19/space-laws-what-governs-intellectual-property-rights-in-outer-space/

• “NASA and India Sign Agreement For Future Cooperation” NASA Release: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2008/feb/HQ_08033_India-agreement.html

• Interplay of intellectual property rights and Space Law: https://amlegals.com/interplay-of-intellectual-property-rights-and-space-law/

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