The Ministry of Commerce and Industry of the Government of India released the much awaited National IPR Policy (“the Policy”) on May 13, 2016, with a vision to transform India as a knowledge economy. Under the tag line “Creative India; Innovative India,” the Policy hopes to catalyse the innovation ecosystem towards India’s economic growth and socio-cultural development.
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) will be the nodal agency for Intellectual Property Rights in India. DIPP will also take over administration of the Copyright Act as well as the Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Act and the associated registries. The erstwhile institution of the Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trademarks will be re-designated as the Controller General of IPRs.
The Policy, through its seven stated objectives, aims to create public awareness on the benefits of IPRs; develop capacity for teaching, training, research, and skill-building in IPRs; stimulate domestic generation of IPRs; promote a balanced, strong and effective legal framework for protection and promotion of IPRs; modernize the administration of IPRs; encourage entrepreneurship by the commercialization of IPRs; and provide strong and effective mechanisms for enforcement of IPRs and adjudication of IPR disputes.
Highlights of some key initiatives of the Policy are summarized below:
Awareness, Education, Creation, and Commercialization
- Promote IPR education to judiciary, enforcement agencies, industries and academic institutions to develop a robust innovation economy.
- Promote research and innovation in areas of national importance, such as, energy and food security, healthcare, agriculture, biotechnology, nanotechnology, new materials, and information and communication technology (ICT).
- Open the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) to public and private entities to further research endeavours.
- Encourage domestic and foreign R&D units to create, protect and utilize IPRs in India.
- Encourage generation of IPRs by linking research funding and career progression with creation of IP.
- Provide tax benefits, financial support, and loan guarantees to encourage R&D and commercialization of IP.
- Provide Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) credits for funding public R&D units.
Legal and Administrative Framework
- Create a policy for the protection of trade secrets.
- Accede to international treaties and agreements that are to India’s benefits.
- Examine the feasibility to join Centralized Access for Search and Examination (CASE) and WIPO Digital Access Services (DAS) to improve processing efficiency.
- Ensure availability of Standards Essential Patents (SEP) on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.
- Streamline regulatory processes for speedy approval for manufacturing and marketing of drugs without compromising on safety and efficacy.
- Provide expedited examination of patent applications to promote manufacturing in India.
- Fix and adhere to timelines for grant of registrations and disposal of oppositions for patents and trademarks.
- Review existing IP laws and where necessary, revise to improve and remove anomalies and inconsistencies.
- Embrace international best practices and technology to improve services, reduce backlogs, and harmonize practices amongst various Intellectual Property India Offices (IPOs).
- Establish effective coordination between the IPOs, the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), the Protection of Plant Variety and Framer’s Rights Authority, and other government agencies to streamline approvals; share training and expertise; and adopt best practices.
- Augment human resources by providing attractive career opportunity to attract and retain best talent to improve efficiency and productivity.
- Create socio-cultural shift to value and respect IPRs.
- Sensitize and encourage IP creators to protect and enforce their rights.
- Embrace technology-based enforcement measures.
- Educate and strengthen training initiatives for law officers, IP administrators and the judiciary to increase awareness of IPRs.
- Initiate stringent actions to curb manufacture and sale of misbranded, adulterated and spurious drugs.
- Adjudicate IP disputes through special Commercial Courts.
- Encourage alternate dispute resolution (ADR) for IP disputes.
The National IPR Policy is a timely and welcome initiative from the Government of India. Several flagship programs of the government, such as Make in India, Digital India, and Start-up India, depend on a strong and robust innovation ecosystem to take root and thrive. However, as with everything, the true test will be in how the DIPP and the other government departments and agencies implement the Policy.