India unveiled a comprehensive Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy on Friday aimed at fostering innovation, cutting delays in clearing patent, trademark and copyright applications, protecting traditional knowledge and encouraging entrepreneurship.
The National Intellectual Property Rights policy, which the Cabinet approved on Friday, will likely bring India’s IP regime in line with global standards and help improve its ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index.
The new policy will also help substantially cut the time taken on clearing the backlog of intellectual property rights (IPR) applications from the current five to seven years to 18 months by March 2018.
Trademark applications will likely get approved in one month by 2018, from 13 months currently.
“The policy aims to create and exploit synergies between all forms of intellectual property (IP), statutes concerned and agencies,” finance minister Arun Jaitley said after the Cabinet meeting.
The policy also puts a premium on enhancing access to healthcare, food security, environmental protection and prevents film and music piracy.
The Indian Cinematography Act, 1952 may be amended to “provide for penal provisions for illegal duplication of films,” the policy said.
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.
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.
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).
The US has kept India on a trade watchlist citing “long-standing systemic deficiencies” and some new concerns about its IPR regime.
But, the US noted, in its annual report last month called Special 301, India has engaged forcefully on the issue and “taken positive steps to address or avoid further erosions of the IPR regime”.
Under pressure from multiple US businesses, trade bodies and lawmakers, India was on the brink of being named to Special 301’s priority foreign country category in 2014, the worst designation from the US perspective that could have attracted trade sanctions.
The US trade representative, which compiles this annual report of countries that are harmful to American trading interests on account of IPR problems, held off the designation.
The Modi government has taken significant steps since including the national IPR policy.
India has maintained that its IPR regime was compatible with the trade related intellectual property rights (TRIPS) agreement of the World Trade Organisation.
The US has been complaining against India’s policy towards compulsory licensing of pharmaceutical products, holding that it may weaken the global patent regime under TRIPS.
“The objective behind the IPR policy is quite clear, when there are new inventions, when there is growth in trade, commerce and industry, an IPR must be there to protect them,” Jaitley said.
The new policy will now also cover music, industrial drawings and will protect public health, food security and environment, among other areas of socio-economic importance.