Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently released India’s new National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy.
- The Policy which is in compliance with WTO’s (World Trade Organisation) agreement on TRIPS (Trade Related aspects of IPRs), aims to sustain entrepreneurship and boost ‘Make in India’ scheme.
- It also aims to create awareness about economic, social and cultural benefits of IPRs among all sections of society.
What are IPRs?
Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) are legal rights, which result from intellectual invention, innovation and discovery in the industrial, scientific, literary and artistic fields. These rights entitle an individual or group to the moral and economic rights of creators in their creation.
Why have an IPR?
IPR is required to safeguard creators and other producers of their intellectual commodity, goods and services by granting them certain time-limited rights to control the use made of the manufactured goods. It gives protection to original ideas and avoids the commercial exploitation of the same.
What is the National IPR Policy?
According to the government, the National IPR Policy is a vision document that aims to create and exploit synergies between all forms of intellectual property (IP), concerned statutes and agencies.
- It sets in place an institutional mechanism for implementation, monitoring and review.
- It aims to incorporate and adapt global best practices to the Indian scenario.
Seven objectives of IPR Policy:
- IPR Awareness: To create public awareness about the economic, social and cultural benefits of IPRs among all sections of society.
- Generation of IPRs: To stimulate the generation of IPRs.
- Legal and Legislative Framework: To have strong and effective IPR laws, which balance the interests of rights owners with larger public interest.
- Administration and Management: To modernize and strengthen service-oriented IPR administration.
- Commercialization of IPRs: Get value for IPRs through commercialization.
- Enforcement and Adjudication: To strengthen the enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms for combating IPR infringements.
- Human Capital Development: To strengthen and expand human resources, institutions and capacities for teaching, training, research and skill building in IPRs.
Highlights of the policy:
- The new policy calls for providing financial support to the less empowered groups of IP owners or creators such as farmers, weavers and artisans through financial institutions like rural banks or co-operative banks offering IP-friendly loans.
- The work done by various ministries and departments will be monitored by the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), which will be the nodal department to coordinate, guide and oversee implementation and future development of IPRs in India.
- The policy, with a tagline of Creative India: Innovative India, also calls for updating various intellectual property laws, including the Indian Cinematography Act, to remove anomalies and inconsistencies in consultation with stakeholders.
- For supporting financial aspects of IPR commercialisation, it asks for financial support to develop IP assets through links with financial institutions, including banks, VC funds, angel funds and crowd-funding mechanisms.
- To achieve the objective of strengthening enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms to combat IPR infringements, it called for taking actions against attempts to treat generic drugs as spurious or counterfeit and undertake stringent measures to curb manufacture and sale of misbranded, adulterated and spurious drugs.
- The policy will be reviewed after every five years to keep pace with further developments in the sector.
Why this policy was need of the hour?
- Global drug brands led by US companies have been pushing for changes to India’s intellectual property rules for quite some time now. They have often complained about India’s price controls and marketing restrictions.
- Also, an IPR policy is important for the government to formulate incentives in the form of tax concessions to encourage research and development (R&D). It is also critical to strengthen the Make In India, Startup and Digital India schemes.
- The IPR policy comes at a time when India and other emerging countries faces fresh challenges from the developed world and mega regional trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Issues associated with this policy:
- According to the policy, India will retain the right to issue so-called compulsory licenses to its drug firms, under “emergency” conditions. Also, the government has indicated that there is no urgent need to change patent laws that are already fully World Trade Organization-compliant. So India has resisted pressure from the US and other Western countries to amend its patent laws.
- The policy also specifically does not open up Section 3(d) of the Patents Act, which sets the standard for what is considered an invention in India, for reinterpretation.
Benefits of this policy:
- The new policy will try to safeguard the interests of rights owners with the wider public interest, while combating infringements of intellectual property rights.
- By 2017, the window for trademark registration will be brought down to one month. This will help in clearing over 237,000 pending applications in India’s four patent offices.
- It also seeks to promote R&D through tax benefits available under various laws and simplification of procedures for availing of direct and indirect tax benefits.
- Unlike earlier where copyright was accorded to only books and publications, the recast regime will cover films, music and industrial drawings. A host of laws will also be streamlined — on semi-conductors, designs, geographical indications, trademarks and patents.
- The policy also puts a premium on enhancing access to healthcare, food security and environmental protection.
- Policy will provide both domestic and foreign investors a stable IPR framework in the country. This will promote a holistic and conducive ecosystem to catalyse the full potential of intellectual property for India’s growth and socio-cultural development while protecting public interest.
- It is expected to lay the future roadmap for intellectual property in India, besides putting in place an institutional mechanism for implementation, monitoring and review. The idea is to incorporate global best practices in the Indian context and adapt to the same.
Why the US would not be happy with this policy?
Last month, the US Trade Representative kept India, China and Russia on its “Priority Watch List” for inadequate improvement in IPR protection. However, brushing aside concerns of the US on India’s IPR regime, the government said its intellectual property rights laws are legal-equitable and WTO-compliant. Thus, the government has not yielded to pressure from the United States to amend India’s patent laws.
TRIPS is an international agreement administered by the World Trade Organization (WTO), which sets down minimum standards for many forms of intellectual property (IP) regulations as applied to the nationals of other WTO Members.
- It was negotiated at the end of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1994.
- TRIPS requires WTO members to provide copyright rights, covering content producers including performers, producers of sound recordings and broadcasting organizations; geographical indications, including appellations of origin; industrial designs; integrated circuit layout-designs; patents; new plant varieties; trademarks; trade dress; and undisclosed or confidential information.
- The agreement also specifies enforcement procedures, remedies, and dispute resolution procedures.