Agenda to include IPR awareness creation, enforcement and capacity building

he Commerce and Industry Ministry will hold discussions with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the global body for promotion and protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), before approaching the cabinet for clearance of the national IPR policy.

The agenda of the high-level discussions with WIPO, likely on January 15, include possible measures for IPR awareness creation, enforcement and capacity building.

WIPO director Ms. Louise Van Greunen told The Hindu that there will be discussions between the WIPO and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) on some components of the proposed national IPR policy. These could include ways to integrate a formal awareness strategy into the policy to ensure respect for IPRs, as well as on an effective enforcement framework and capacity building measures.

Van Greunen said she was hopeful that India’s national IPR policy would encourage innovation, promote foreign investment and stimulate growth. “There is a lot of optimism about India,” she said. DIPP, a part of the commerce and industry ministry, is the nodal body at the Centre for drafting and finalising the national IPR policy.

U.S. seeks comments

The government’s decision to formulate a national IPR policy followed criticism from developed countries, including the US, of India’s “weak” IPR system as it allegedly does not do enough to effectively protect IPRs.

The U.S. had on January 11 sought public comments for the 2016 version of the Special 301 Report. The report “identifies countries that deny adequate and effective protection of IPR or deny fair and equitable market access to US persons who rely on IP protection.” Noting America’s concerns on India’s IPR system, the 2015 Special 301 report said India will remain on the ‘Priority Watch List’. The report, however, said the U.S. was not announcing an out-of-cycle review of India in this regard, but will monitor progress, and was prepared to take further action, if necessary.

The DIPP, on November 13, 2014, had said it constituted an IPR think tank headed by Justice Prabha Sridevan to draft a national IPR policy and sought suggestions for it from stakeholders. The think tank submitted the first draft of the policy on December 19, 2014 and sought comments from the public. The think tank then gave its final draft to the DIPP on April 18 last year after taking comments from 290 stakeholders or delegations and “in-person meetings with 60 delegations comprising 132 stakeholders.” The DIPP had sought comments from other central government ministries on the final draft and had said the final policy will go to the Union cabinet shortly for approval.

WIPO’s programme

Ms. Van Greunen, who is to speak on measures to counter illicit trade at a FICCI event, said WIPO has already held a programme with the Central Bureau of Investigation and the states on effective implementation of IPR laws and capacity building. The inputs from the programme would be given to the DIPP.

The Geneva-headquartered WIPO encourages and provides assistance to all its 188 member countries in formulating a national IPR policy, she said, adding, however, that WIPO does not dictate or prescribe any mandatory measures.

“All our activities are member (country)-driven. We only prepare a draft outline and tell our members what all could be useful to include in such a (national IPR) policy. It is for the member country to accept it or not, bearing in mind their level of development and developmental goals,” Van Greunen said.

Referring to the importance of creating awareness of IPRs in India and other countries to ensure the successful implementation of an IPR policy, she said relying only on punitive measures will not be as effective as a sustainable approach to create awareness among all stakeholders.

Ms. Van Greunen said WIPO has a document on enforcement dealing specifically with components to be included in the awareness creation strategy, adding that this document could be tailored to suit the needs of countries including India.

Low patent filing

According to data compiled by IndiaSpend, of the total 67,342 patents granted in India during 2006-15, those pertaining to foreign inventors were 56,727, while only 10,615 went to Indian inventors. In the WIPO’s Global Innovation Index 2015 that surveyed 141 economies in the world, India’s was ranked 81.