On 13 May 2016, the Union Cabinet approved India’s first Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy for awareness, creation, commercialization, protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property (IP) in India. As our readers may recall, the Indian Patent Office (IPO) had previously published a draft IPR policy on 9 January 2015 for comments from the stakeholders and the present policy has been finalized after discussions and comments provided by the stakeholders. The policy has been structured based on seven broad objectives which are as follows:
- Awareness: outreach and promotion;
- Generation of IPRs;
- Legal and legislative framework;
- Administration and management;
- Commercialization of IPR;
- Enforcement and adjudication; and
- Human capital development.
Under the aforementioned seven objectives, the policy seeks to cover aspects which are broadly summarized below:
- To bring the administration and implementation of all IP-related laws including the Copyright Act, 1957 and Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Act, 2000 under the Department of Industrial Promotion and Policy (DIPP) since these were previously administered by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and Ministry of Communications and Technology, respectively.
- To amend existing IP laws, rules and regulations in consultation with the stakeholders to bring clarity, simplify and streamline these, and to bring about transparency and time bound processes in administration and enforcement of IP rights. Further, the measures that are required to be taken include (i) policy development in the area of protection of trade secrets; (ii) providing a suitable legal framework for technology transfer and licensing for Standard Essential Patents (SEPs); (iii) constructively negotiating international treaties and agreements in consultation with stakeholders; (iv) suitably amending statutes to address illegal duplication of cinematographic films; and (v)examination of interplay between IP laws and other laws and removing ambiguities/inconsistencies.
- To create awareness about the economic, social and cultural benefits of IPRs in India, not only amongst public in general, but also amongst industries and research and development (R&D) entities and to launch a nationwide promotion program under the umbrella slogan “Creative India; Innovative India”. It further contemplates constituting a “Cell for IPR Promotion and Management” (CIPAM) under the aegis of DIPP for promotion, creation and commercialization of IP assets.
- To perform a comprehensive IP audit across various sectors to evaluate the potential of each sector. The aim is to formulate and implement sector-wise programmes to tap the evaluated potential, assessing needs and providing support towards creation of IP.
- To expand the ambit of Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) to allow public research institutions and private players to use TKDL for further R&D.
- To increase the manpower and enhance Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure at different offices that administer IPR to ensure document management, adherence to timelines and time bound disposal of IPR applications.
- Various measures and functions have been suggested with respect to each Intellectual Property Office; for example, to explore the possibility of expedited examination of patent applications to promote manufacturing in India and a periodic review and revision of the guidelines published by the IPO to reflect legislative intent.
- To provide incentives to promote R&D. Such incentives include tax benefits, financial support for sale of products based on IPR generated from public funded research and that IPRs are to be treated as mortgageable assets.
- To promote infusion of funds to public R&D as a part of corporate social responsibilities of companies.
- Strengthening the enforcement mechanism for better protection of IPR. For example, the creation of IPR cells in state police forces for curbing IP offences, to focus on enhanced coordination between various agencies, adjudication of IP disputes through specialized commercial courts and alternate dispute resolution for speedy disposal.
- To develop IPR expertise in industry, academia, legal practitioners, judiciary, IP users and civil society by proper training and introduction of multi-disciplinary IP courses in all major training institutes such as judicial academies, the National Academy of Administration, police and customs academies etc. This measure further includes providing legal training for examiners, making IPR an integral part of the curriculum in all legal, technical, medical and management educational institutes, and facilitating industry associations, inventor and IP support institutions to raise awareness of IP issues.
This is a welcome step by the government towards a balanced and effective IPR regime in India. However, it would be interesting to see how soon and efficiently these objectives are implemented by setting up a strong legal framework as some of these objectives may require legislative amendments.