Intellectual property refers to any work designed, created or produced using one’s own intellectual capabilities. It can include tangible articles like inventions, art works and intangible ones like song lyrics, designs, computer programmes and so on. Essentially, intellectual property rights (IPR) refer to the creator’s rights of ownership over his or her unique and original creations.
These usually give the creator the right to be the sole user or distributor of his or her work for a specific period of time in a particular territory, provided that these inventions or innovations adhere to certain predetermined standards of originality and distinctiveness. Intellectual property rights aim to protect these kinds of works from theft and encourage the exploration and advancement of one’s creative impulses.
However, this protection is not always extended to creators. In fact, in this day and age of capitalism, intense competition has made brands frequently resort to underhanded measures like espionage and subterfuge to gain an upper hand over their rivals. Many a times, they copy their rival brands’ products and sell them to cut into their rival’s profits.
Consequently, intellectual property rights have become an important concern in today’s time, allowing content creators to maintain ownership over their work and safeguard it from replication. Having robust intellectual property laws also makes a nation appear more innovation-friendly and economically productive.
India’s new National Intellectual Property Rights Law serves to promote entrepreneurship by providing people with a fertile ground for monetising their creative and intellectual faculties. It was adopted on 12th May 2016 and complies with the 1995 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the Doha Development Agenda.
A brief background of Intellectual Property Rights in India
Before the National Intellectual Property Rights Law of 2016, India had no single integrated law or act pertaining to protection of one’s intellectual property. Instead, there were numerous laws and navigating through each of them would prove cumbersome.
- The Copyrights Act of 1957
- The Patent Act of 1970
- The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act of 1999
- The Trade Marks Act of 1999
- The Designs Act of 2000
- The Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Act of 2000
- The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmer’s Rights Act of 2001
- The Biological Diversity Act of 2002
Aim & Objectives of the National Intellectual Property Rights Policy
The National Intellectual Property Rights Policy was constituted under India’s Make in India scheme which aims to incentive’s economic production in India. This new policy was launched with the motto ‘Creative India, Innovative India’, implying that an artist’s agency and autonomy over his or her creative endeavours would help increase his or her desire to create more.
It brings into one platform all the different acts and laws regarding copyrights and industrial property rights, thus making it a rather comprehensive and holistic policy.
The government has said that this new policy will help bring awareness to the wide pools of creative talent that can be found among India’s populace and intends to focus on harnessing these for progress in the fields of science, technology, art and culture. Intellectual property will be seen as assets with the potential to be capitalised on and marketed to a wide audience.
The primary objectives of India’s new IPR policy are:
- IPR Awareness: Outreach and Promotion – The National Intellectual Property Rights Policy intends to generate greater awareness about one’s intellectual property and to emphasise the benefits of marking something as one’s unique intellectual property.
- Generation of IPRs: The policy hopes that it will induce a higher number of people to register their inventions, innovations and artworks under the new IPR laws.
- Legal and Legislative Framework: As per this objective, the Indian government will aim to frame strong IPR laws which should protect creators from theft and piracy. Economic incentives which facilitate growth of business are bound to be included too.
- Administration and Management: This objective concentrates on training IPR officials and bringing them up to speed on the various modern developments in the domain of intellectual property rights. It also aims to ease and streamline the bureaucratic procedures associated with getting a product identified as intellectual property.
- Commercialisation of IPRs: Encouraging commercialisation of intellectual property refers to the most effective capitalisation of intellectual property so as to increase its economic benefits. This will enable India to increase its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- Enforcement and Adjudication: This objective of the policy indicates the Indian government’s willingness to stringently enforce its laws and crack down on illegal infringements on one’s intellectual property rights like theft, plagiarism, piracy and so on. Legal mechanisms for redress will also be established.
- Human Capital Development: The Indian government will endeavour to amplify its resources on intellectual property, human or otherwise, through education, research and awareness. For instance, information about intellectual property and its associated rights has found place in the syllabi of school students who have taken up commerce.
The policy will be reviewed and updated every five years to incorporate suggestions and make necessary changes so as to adapt it to the current needs of the time.
Provisions of the National Intellectual Property Rights Policy
This policy mostly prioritises the flowering of creativity and effective capitalisation on it. Therefore, it proposes the following measures:
- Creation of a Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM): A supervisory and coordinating body called the CIPAM will be initiated under Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion to fulfil the objectives of the National Intellectual Property Rights Policy.
- Awareness Campaigns: In order to facilitate the growth of an IP culture, the government will conduct workshops, seminars and discussions in schools, colleges, corporate offices and places of business. Reading material and pamphlets will be distributed to widen people’s knowledge base on IPR.
- IP Cells: IP cells will be formed in relevant ministry departments and will work with the CIPAM to further ease registration of intellectual property.
- Generation, registration and commercialisation: The government aims to substantiate the number of IP registrations by directing its resources for research, especially in its prioritised areas. Geographical Indications (GI) tags will receive a special boost.
- Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL): The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library was set up in 2001 to be a digitised store of traditional knowledge about various forms of Indian medicine. Its scope will be widened to encompass other spheres of knowledge outside Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani and Siddha.
- Biological patents will be given primary importance and the new national policy will expedite the procedures for granting these.
- Cadre Management in IP Offices: The organisation of the work force of the IP authorities in India will be revamped and they will be updated about the new methods and laws.
- Access to Medicines: Since new, improved and affordable medicines are becoming an urgent demand in India, the government has mooted some changes in its existing licensing and marketing policies. Costs-cutting partnerships between various sectors, public and private, will be promoted, new licensing systems will be conceived, whilst utilising new trade models and technological platforms for sales.
- Piracy/ Counterfeiting: New measures against piracy will be instituted so as to curb its prevalence, online or offline.
- Assistance to smaller firms: Small-scale companies with lesser resources will be given necessary assistance through the enactment of schemes such as DeitY’s Support for International Patent Protection in Electronics and IT (SIP-EIT).
- Judicial Awareness & Resolution of IP disputes: Judges and judicial staff will also be trained in the discipline of intellectual property rights. Commercial courts will handle cases on intellectual property infringements. Extra-judicial courts will also be set up to handle these cases, without burdening the judiciary.
- Review: This policy will be up for review every five years, to be undertaken by a Committee organised by the Secretary of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotions.
- The policy implies that a higher number of intellectual property registrations indicate India’s growth in the sphere of innovation.
- Excessive use of IPRs might decrease competition between businesses.
- Cultural appropriation of indigenous art forms by foreigners is not addressed in this policy.
- It makes no mention of the present state of IPR filing in India and how the backlog will be reduced.
- Streamlining of Industrial Mechanism
The Copyright Act and the Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Act have been brough under the purview of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, as part of the integrated approach of the new IP policy. India has ratified the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) and so now accepts intellectual property registrations on the digital domain. Both the Trade Marks Rules and the Patent Rules have been overhauled.
- Increase in Flings
While Trademark filings have increased twenty eight per cent in the 2018-2019 from 2017-2018, Patent filings have increased by seven per cent.
- Global Innovation Index
According to the 2018 Global Innovation Index compiled by the World Intellectual Property Organisation, India has jumped twenty one spots to a new high of fifty seven from its rank of eighty one in 2015.
Numerous programmes have been conducted to sensitise people on the importance of intellectual property rights. Students, police personnel, judicial officials and corporate have been its major recipients. Intellectual property has been introduced in the syllabi of commerce school students. IPR cells have been established in 41 universities across India.
- Reduction in Backlog
Pending Patent applications have gone down from 1,97,934 to 1,39,274 in two years (31.03.2016-31.10.2018). In the same period, the backlog of trademark filings have reduced from 2,59,668 to 32,619. The government has also utilised the digital medium for automatically issuing IPR certificates.
- IPR Enforcement
Police officials have been briefed about acting on complaints regarding IPR infringements like Trademark counterfeiting and Copyright piracy.
- Technology & Innovation Centres
Together with the World Intellectual Property Rights Organisation, the Indian government has found six Technology and innovation Support Centres in institutions all over India.