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Government to unveil IPR policy in a fortnight

The government is likely to announce its National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy within a fortnight.

The policy -- which will be entirely compliant with the World Trade Organisation’s agreement on Trade Related aspects of IPRs (TRIPS) -- will, as per Prime Minister Narendra Modi's suggestion, have a special thrust on awareness generation and effective enforcement of IPRs, besides encouragement of IP commercialisation through various incentives.

However, the policy will not suggest any changes in the existing Indian IPR laws or other related policies on the patent-disabling Compulsory Licencing (CL) and the provision-preventing 'ever-greening' of drug patents (done through minor modifications of an existing drug).

The government had in November 2014 said it has set up an IPR think-tank to draft the IPR policy. However, despite the think-tank submitting the final draft in April 2015, the announcement of the policy was delayed as the Cabinet note on it had to be circulated among 29 ministries for their suggestions, official sources told The Hindu.

They said the Cabinet Secretariat had held meeting on Monday to fine-tune the policy, adding that the Union Cabinet will take it up for its approval “within a fortnight.”

The move to retain the provisions on CLs (in the National Manufacturing Policy and Section 84 of India's Patents Act) as well as Section 3(d) of India's Patents Act (preventing ever-greening of drug patents) comes even as the European Union and the US have been pressing India to make changes in this regard to “boost innovation, research and development (R&D) and foreign investment in India”.

According to Section 3(d), besides novelty and inventive step, improvement in therapeutic efficacy is a must for grant of patents when it comes to incremental inventions.

The EU and U.S. had objected to India's adoption of CL in industrial sectors (in the National Manufacturing Policy) saying it will discourage investment and innovation.

As regards Section 3(d), the U.S. and EU firms had said the so-called 'additional filter' in the form of “improvement in therapeutic efficacy” for grant of patents was inconsistent with WTO's TRIPS agreement, a charge which India has denied.

As per Mr. Modi's suggestion, the IPR Policy will focus on creating IPR awareness at school/college level by making it a part of syllabus/curriculum, and promote organisations such as the National Research Development Corporation to help commercialise the inventions / patents developed at the level of educational institutes.

The policy will also suggest incentives such as tax benefits and fee waivers to encourage R&D and IP creation to strengthen the Make In India/Start-up/Digital India initiatives.

To protect 'small inventions' developed especially in the informal / unorganised sectors, the policy will promote 'utility patents' (with lower compliance burden and shorter period of protection, when compared to the normal patents) only for mechanical innovations. This 'utility patents' may not be extended to the pharmaceutical sector considering the sensitivities involved in ensuring the efficacy of the drugs.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 11:06:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/government-to-unveil-ipr-policy-in-a-fortnight/article8272618.ece

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