Intellectual Property, in a globalized world, is a currency for economic growth, international co-operation, benefit sharing, and a pillar of multilateral trading and commerce.
A strong and balanced Intellectual Property Rights regime encourages both domestic innovation and knowledge diffusion through intellectual property protection, international trade, and technology transfers. India with its robust intellectual property laws strikes an effective balance between rewarding the innovators and ensuring the interests of the public. However, with recent changes in intellectual property laws, various highly complex IP related issues have sprung up.
FICCI opines that by 2050, India should aim at being the world’s hot bed for creation, protection and exploitation of intellectual property. But, for India to realize the goal, it is extremely important that a platform (independent body / Think Tank) is set-up. This body should subject intellectual property issues to scrutiny; anchor constructive policy dialogue, and help take informed policy decisions. This body should also through extensive research and interactions with relevant stakeholders assist the government by submitting policy briefs on highly debated policy issues.
There is also a need for continuous interactions between the Intellectual Property Office and Indian Copyright Office whereby intellectual property issues faced by industry are highlighted and proactive measures taken for timely and effective resolution. The need also is to foster greater transparency in the working of Intellectual Property Office and bringing it at par with International standards. To an extent, the FICCI-DIPP Consultative Working Group on Patents/Designs/Trade Marks System in India has achieved this objective.
Consultative Working Group on Patents/Designs/Trade Marks System in India
The consultation of the working group have led to
- Online availability of Patent database thereby helping businesses carry out prior art searches and take informed business decisions.
- Online availability of Controller’s decision: thereby resulting in enhanced transparency in Indian Intellectual Property Office’s procedures towards rejection or grant of intellectual property rights
- User Friendly E-filing of Patent Applications: intellectual property user community also faced problems due to mandatory filing of hard copies of patent applications. This was a concern for those not residing in India and those residing in locations where intellectual property offices are not located. The E-filing facility initiated by the Indian Patent office however was sub-optimal due to its non user-friendly interface. The Consultative process also led to making E-filing facility more user-friendly by increasing number of payment gateways and certifying authorities for digital signatures.
- Uniform Protocol: with a view to make the pre and post grant patent oppositions more transparent and avoid unnecessary patent disputes, the Consultative Working Group led to the issuance of notification by the intellectual property office of India. The notification mandated all the branches of IP offices to follow the uniform protocol of ensuring that the opponent is served with the copy of reply submitted by the intellectual property owner. This is a welcome step as it gives the opponent an opportunity to prepare his defence.
Enforcing Intellectual Property Rights in India
Indian IP laws contain enough provisions for administrative, civil and criminal remedies for infringement of the rights. However, our problem lies in effective enforcement, especially due to scientific and technological advancements, which have led to newer ways of circumventing laws. The breakneck speed of digital technologies evolution and its effect on enforcement calls for newer and effective ways to handle the situation. Government may therefore consider several ways can lead to effective execution of enforcement of intellectual property Rights. These include:
- Setting up of Specialized IP Courts or Summary Trial Procedures for handling counterfeit and piracy cases
- Consider taking public opinion on having Draft Optical Disc (OD) law, which may aim at developing an effective enforcement policy to deal with music, film and software piracy by giving an identification number (ID) to each OD manufactured in India or imported in country. ID number would enable easy tracking/tracing of the potential infringer.
- Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises being a completely unorganized sector renders enforcing intellectual property rights a challenge. Various Intellectual Property Facilitation Centres launched by Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in association with partners like industry chambers is an important step towards this direction. These facilitation centres provide general advisory, prior art searching, services related to protection of intellectual property and its commercialization etc. However, corporate organizations, as a part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) should come forward and support these Facilitation Centres.
- There is also a need for an IP fund to aid capacity building and enforcement programs.
In the end, it is time that Industry and Government together make concerted efforts towards building a robust Intellectual Property Ecosystem for inclusive National growth. Time also demands that a platform to facilitate consensus building amongst different stakeholders is created. FICCI-IP Division has recently initiated an intellectual property committee, which besides aiming at consensus building, is also voicing industry concerns and making concerted representations towards proactive resolution of intellectual property issues.