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National intellectual property rights policy of India

An all-encompassing IPR 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, while protecting public interest. The rationale for the National IPR Policy lies in the need to create awareness about the importance of IPRs as a marketable financial asset and economic tool. The Policy lays down seven Objectives which are elaborated with steps to be undertaken by the identified nodal Ministry/ department.

The 21st century belongs to the knowledge era and is driven by the knowledge economy- an economy that creates, disseminates and uses knowledge to enhance its growth and development. Traditionally, monetization of knowledge has never been the norm in India. While laudable and altruistic, this does not fit with the global regime of zealously protected IPRs. Hence, there is a need to propagate the value of transforming knowledge into IP assets. This requires a major paradigm shift of how knowledge is viewed and valued – not for what it is, but for what it can become.

Many IP holders are unaware of the benefits of IP rights or of their own capabilities to create IP assets or the value of their ideas. They are often discouraged by the complexities of the process of creating defendable IP rights. Conversely, they may be unaware of the value of others’ IP rights and the need to respect the same. The policy proposes to tackle both perspectives through outreach and promotion programs. A nation-wide program of promotion should be launched with an aim to improve the awareness about the benefits of IPRs and their value to the rights-holders and the public.

It is an acknowledged fact that a strong and balanced legal framework encourages continuous flow of innovation and is among the bare necessities to fuel a vibrant knowledge economy. India recognizes that effective protection of IP rights is essential for making optimal use of the innovative and creative capabilities of its people. Since it is difficult to predict the reach of existing laws in a changing and dynamic knowledge field, it becomes necessary to carry out legislative changes, as may be required from time to time. For this purpose, stakeholder consultation shall be done to keep the laws updated in consonance with national needs and priorities. The legal framework may also be utilized to enhance transparency and efficiency in the administration and enforcement of IPR laws.

The value and economic reward for the owners of IP rights comes only from their commercialization. Entrepreneurship should be encouraged so that the financial value of IPRs may be captured. Financing is a major impediment for entrepreneurs and therefore it is necessary to connect investors and IP creators. Another constraint faced is valuation of IP and assessment of the potential of the IPRs for the purpose of marketing it. Public – funded research laboratories, academia and other institutions should stimulate commercialization of their research outcomes. Efforts should be made for creation of a public platform to connect creators and innovators to potential users, buyers and funding institutions.

IP rights are essentially private rights. The primary obligation of protecting IP rights is on the IPR owners who can seek legal remedies for enforcement of their rights. Along with providing an effective mechanism for enforcement of IP rights, it is equally important to balance the rights of the public in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare and to prevent misuse or abuse of IP rights. There is a need to build respect for IPR among the general public and to sensitize the inventors and creators of IP on measures for protection and enforcement of their rights. At the same time, there is also a need to build the capacity of the enforcement agencies at various levels, including strengthening of IPR cells in State police forces.

Measures to check counterfeiting and piracy also need to be identified and undertaken. In this regard, the definitions of “counterfeit trademark goods” and “pirated copyright goods” as referred to in the footnote of Article 51 of the TRIPS Agreement shall serve as the guiding principles. Regular IPR workshops / colloquia for judges would facilitate effective adjudication of IPR disputes. It would be desirable to adjudicate on IPR disputes through specialised commercial courts. Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism may also be explored.

In order to harness the full potential of IPRs for economic growth, it is essential to develop an increasing pool of IPR professionals and experts in spheres such as policy and law, strategy development, administration and enforcement. IPR expertise would thus need to be developed and increased in industry, academia, legal practitioners, judiciary, IP users and civil society. In addition, there will be enhancement of multidisciplinary human and institutional capacity for policy development, teaching, training, research and skill building. Such a reservoir of experts will facilitate in increasing generation of IP assets in the country and their utilization for development purposes.

Intellectual property in India is regulated by several laws, rules and regulations under the jurisdiction of different Ministries/ Departments. A number of authorities and offices administer the laws. The legal provisions need to be implemented harmoniously so as to avoid conflict, overlap or inconsistencies among them. It is necessary that the authorities concerned administer the laws in coordination with each other in the interest of efficient administration and user satisfaction. International, regional and bilateral negotiations require developing a common national position in consultation with different Ministries, authorities and stakeholders.