Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions; literary and artistic works; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.
Considering the changing nature of businesses today and the ever evolving IP field, it was felt that certain aspects of the present IPR regime need to be modified to suit the present day challenges. Also keeping in mind that India has to be compliant with TRIPs (being a member of the WTO), we need to keep our laws updated and equitable. With this view in mind, Indian Government decided to come up with the National IPR Policy.
The policy seeks to instill the importance of IPR in every sector and also seeks to modify the existing literature/laws to curtail the issues faced by the stakeholders.
Salient features/objectives of the Policy are discussed below briefly.
As it was seen, a major part of the society was unaware about the existence and benefits of IPR. Under this objective, the policy seeks to create awareness amongst all the sectors of the society, treating rural and urban population alike. It also furthers that IPR should be made a compulsory part of the curriculum in major institutions of the country.
Generation of IPRs:
Considering the vide talent pool that India has, it should be made use of. Based on the same statement, the policy tries to promote innovation and indigenous products. Especially when a large chunk of our companies belong to either MSMEs or start ups, it becomes important to not only safeguard the rights/creations of these companies but also to boost them to further creativity.
Legal and Legislative Framework:
It is the need of the hour to safeguard India’s interest to hold a strong ground in the world of competition. The policy therefore seeks to strengthen the existing laws and provides for an effective legal system for the protection and promotion of IPRs.
Administration and Management:
The Policy seeks to change the cumbersome process of filing/granting of IPRs. It furthers that modernization of laws is required for an effective IPR regime. To achieve the same, it aims to lower the average time for pending Patent applications to 18 months down from 5-7 years and trademark registration to one month down from 13 months. An important administrative change includes the administration of the Copyright Act, 1957 and the Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Act, 2000 being brought under the aegis of DIPP, besides constituting a Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM).
Commercialization of IPR:
Policy tries to reward the owners of these rights and emphasizes on the importance of valuation of IP and its assessment to promote & market it. It proposes to create a platform where creators and innovators can meet the potential buyers, users and funding institutions.
Enforcement and Adjudication:
It was felt that there is lack of enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms for combating IPR infringements; the policy therefore seeks to ensure legal remedies to IPR owners seeking enforcement of their rights in the matters relating to infringement.
Human Capital Development:
To increase the potential of IPRs for their economic growth, the need was felt to lay more emphasis on increasing the pool of the IP assets, which can be done only when there is strengthening and expansion of the existing human resource and institutions pertaining to IPR.
Although the policy seeks to promote & develop the IP field to ensure commercialization and expansion but it does not address the specifics. It does not address the present condition of patent filing in the country and how do we improve that, while it does mention that most of the patents in the country are filed by foreign companies/investors. The policy recommends recognition to petty patents or utility models as a form of IP and enactment of a new law on utility models so as to facilitate protection of small inventions.
The policy suggests various changes to the existing mechanisms for broadening the IP prospects and facilitating regulatory and administrative changes. With the advancement of science & technology, changing nature of international commitments (covenants and treaties), laws need to keep pace and therefore the policy suggests that we need to improve/amend our laws and keep in mind that the sole motive of granting IP protection is twofold (benefit to the innovator/creator and benefit to the consumer), and that both of them have to happen simultaneously.
The policy furthers that the IPOs need to be given more powers and the procedures followed have to be standardized and there has to be coordination between different IPOs. We further need to study and analyze the interface between various other laws & IP to cover all aspects pertaining to generation of IP or which might lead to complications in granting such access, like competition law issues.
The policy seems to be a welcoming change but all depends on the way it is enforced. If the all the aspects mentioned in the policy are dealt with in a strict sense, keeping in mind the rights and interests of the indigenous innovators, the policy can change India’s stand in the world and foster innovation to a great extent.
Purvasha Mansharamani is a lawyer and an associate with TMT Law Practice at New Delhi