Experts come out against draft National IPR policy

The draft prepared by the Centre’s IPR Think Tank has failed to address many pertinent questions regarding intellectual property

February 22, 2015 04:39 pm | Updated 04:39 pm IST

The draft National IPR Policy prepared by the Centre’s IPR Think Tank has come under harsh criticism from experts.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) scholars at the Centre for IPR Studies of the Cochin University of Science and Technology have made a scathing attack on the policy stating that it made no attempt to design a balanced IPR policy.

Prof. N.S. Gopalakrishnan, considered an authority on IPR-related issues, pointed out that the objectives listed out in the draft policy did not meet the commitments in the introductory statements. The main thrust of the objectives appeared to be promotion of awareness of the significance of intellectual property (IP) protection, strengthening of IP laws, strengthening of IP administration, enforcement, adjudication and so on, he said.

Missing areas

Prof. Gopalakrishnan, who has been the chief negotiator representing the country at the World Intellectual Property Organisation on traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions since 2010, said that nothing was mentioned about health, food security, and environment in the draft policy.

“In other words, of the dual purposes of IP — research incentive and access facilitation — the policy focused only on its role as an incentive, that too without much proof of the veracity of that argument,” he said.

T.G. Agitha, Associate Professor at the Centre, stated that the draft IPR Policy, which gave a strong message of supporting the Centre’s Make in India campaign, failed to address the question of whether a strong IP in itself was sufficient enough to attract foreign direct investment.

“The message is to strengthen IP system in India so that it’s a good market for foreign IP holders to exploit their IP and get maximum benefit out of it,” she said.

Prof. Gopalakrishnan reminded that the measures suggested in the draft policy envisaged large government funding for protecting and promoting foreign IP in India even though it stated that the primary obligation of protecting IP rights was on the IP owners. “Moreover, the reference to State legislations in the context of copyright protection showed how the balance in the policy was tilted in favour of IP holders against society,” he said.

Traditional knowledge

Explaining that the draft policy made no serious efforts to find out the actual need of IP in promoting creativity/innovations in both formal and informal sectors, Dr. Agitha said that the lip service paid to the importance of traditional knowledge and need for sui generis law for its protection without any details were clear indications.

“While the draft is more vocal on the details of promotion of modern IP, its comparative silence on the issue of traditional knowledge and the informal creativity/innovations based on it is significant. There is no evidence to show that the modern utility model and trade secret laws are useful to promote informal innovations,” she said.

Foreigners to benefit

Prof. Gopalakrishnan said that the draft policy admitted that the benefits of the new changes in the IP laws in India were being enjoyed by foreign IP holders. This made it clear that the lack of innovation in India had no significance to IP laws, whether “robust, effective and balanced” or not, he said.

The experts warned that any attempt to draft an IP policy for India in a hurried manner without making proper studies on the impact of existing IP laws on the basic needs of large sections of the Indian population would only help give a wrong impression on India’s ability to carve out a balanced IP policy.

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