India’s draft IP policy shows major changes coming, while fitting IP system to local needs

The first draft of a national intellectual property rights policy being developed by a “think tank” of Indian IP experts shows adherence to the country’s principles of bending the IP system to its local needs. But it also shows signs of major change toward more international goals of enforcement and promotion of strong IP rights.

The first draft of the National IPR Policy, dated 19 December, is available here [pdf]. [Note: comments are being invited until 30 January 2015, sent to, see 30 December press release here.]

The policy is being drafted by the “IPR Think Tank,” composed of six Indian judges, lawyers and academics. Comments are being sought on the draft.

The draft shows the effort to be visionary and practical at the same time, capturing the appropriate balance between enforcement and knowledge availability for creation and innovation.

“An all-encompassing IP Policy will promote a holistic and conducive ecosystem to catalyse the full potential of intellectual property for India’s economic growth and socio-cultural development,” it states. “Such a Policy will nurture the IP culture and address all facets of the IP system including legal, administrative and enforcement infrastructure, human resources, institutional support system and international dimensions.”

The drafters express a vision of robust innovation and creativity in the country, and seem to fully recognise the value of the IP system in promoting that goal while maintaining India’s strong stance on the public interest.

“The idea of being a creator and innovator must capture the imagination of our people to maximize the generation of all genres of IP rights,” they said. “The Policy intends to harness the full benefits of creation and innovation in the larger interest of society and citizens,” and will encompass a full range of government, research, education, corporate and other stakeholders.

It lends strong words against theft and misappropriation of IP rights. “Piracy and counterfeiting discourage creativity and innovation apart from having a deleterious effect on the economy and consumers, and the same shall be sternly dealt with.”

And it sees IP rights not as an end but a means to bigger development goals. “The National IPR Policy envisages IP as an integral part of India’s overall development policy,” it states. “It will integrate and create synergies with IP related aspects off various sector specific policies. It will provide a roadmap for holistic, effective and balanced development of the IP system in India.”

While offering broad visions, the 30-page draft policy also provides an ambitious number of detailed steps to be taken. It notes that India has already been dramatically transforming its IP system since the 1990s, listing its various new laws and amendments on trademark, patent, copyright, designs, geographical indications, plant varieties, semiconductors and biological diversity. It also notes numerous achievements such as the modernisation of its IP offices, accession to several international treaties, and its recognition as an International Search Authority and an International Preliminary Examination Authority under the Patent Cooperation Treaty managed by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The report defends the Indian judicial system, which has taken some criticism from outside industry such as pharmaceuticals for decisions defeating patents in that country.

“The IP regime in India has adequate safeguards in the form of judicial review and appellate provisions. The Indian judiciary is a strong and independent pillar of the government and has made immense contribution in enforcing IP rights,” it said. “Judgments of Indian courts relating to IP disputes have clearly expressed the intent and purpose of our laws.”

It says India “has adopted a balanced approach towards patent law,” and is “committed to protect innovation while promoting the larger goal of welfare of its citizens.” It offers an explanation of the decisions by courts and tribunals that might be seen as detrimental to foreign interests.

The draft sets out the vision, mission and objectives of the strategy. And it lists steps to be taken, such as a major awareness campaign including adopting slogans about creative and innovative India. The campaign will involve reaching out to all levels of domestic business, users, artisans and all others, case studies of successful use of IPRs, eminent personalities, moving exhibits, multilingual efforts, and studying best practices of other nations.

There will be funding of research, collaboration with multinational corporations, materials for small and medium businesses, events such as “IPR Days”, prizes to encourage IP creation, and development of course materials on the “importance of IP rights” at educational institutions, including distance learning.

In addition there will be substantive projects, such as a comprehensive “IP audit or base line survey” in different sectors to “assess and evaluate areas of strength and potential,” identifying target groups of inventors and creators and developing programs for them. Also efforts will be undertaken to boost IP output at national research labs, universities and elsewhere, and IP will become a “key performance metric” for public funding of research and development.

Other examples from dozens include establishing “IP facilitation centers”, creating an “industry-academia interface” stimulating large corporations to become involved, pass a new law on utility models, introduce a “first-time patent” fee waiver and reduce costs in other ways, provide tax incentives, boost registration of geographical indications and other IP, create a sui generis system for protection of traditional knowledge, and so on.

The draft policy lists many steps to change and improve laws and the legislative framework, administrative practices, and increase the commercialisation of IP.

Just one example, showing the strong infusion of consciousness about enforcement measures, is the proposed establishment of a “Multi-Agency Task Force” for “coordination between various agencies and providing direction and guidance on strengthening enforcement measures; creating a nation-wide database of known IP offenders; coordinating with and sharing of intelligence and best practices at the national and international level; studying the extent of IP violations in various sectors; examining the implications of jurisdictional difficulties among enforcement authorities; and introducing appropriate technology based solutions for curbing digital piracy.”

Other notable proposals are to designate “specialized patent benches” in the regional high courts for “speedy disposal” of patent cases,” and to increase the training of judges. And in the boosting of human capital, India would strengthen its IP teaching, research and training in collaboration with WIPO and the WTO, among others.

And at the same time, it restates the guiding principle that IP should work in the public interest of India. It insists that all of its existing laws are consistent with the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). And, it said, “India will continue to utilize the legislative space and flexibilities available in international treaties and the TRIPS Agreement while considering amending or enacting new laws.”

With this draft plan, India appears to show that it is evolving on IP, while continuing to present a model to other developing countries of ways to ensure the system is employed in the best interest of the country. It is likely that stakeholders from all sides will find something to say about this plan.

Source: Intellectual Property Watch

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By William New

Published: Jan. 14, 2015, 5:07 p.m.

Last updated: Jan. 14, 2015, 6:09 p.m.

Tags: Access

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