India has unveiled a new National Intellectual Property Rights Policy to safeguard commercial interests arising from creativity - like music, books, industrial drawings, software and even drugs and pharmaceuticals.
The country, in the process, also wants to meet global obligation towards protecting innovation, while also placing it at the core of industrial progress. The new policy will serve as a vision document to ensure synergies between the statute and institutional mechanisms.
"When there're new inventions, when there is growth in trade, commerce, industry, an intellectual property rights regime must be there for protection," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday, a day after the cabinet gave its nod to the proposal.
"We have a robust trademark law in place that deals with commercial identity of products. The one underlying principle is a person should sell products under his own identity and name -- stealing identity should not be possible," Jaitley added.
"If you steal somebody's identity and piggy-back on it, it's called commercial theft," he said, but assured intervention when needed.
"We need this so that medicine costs don't get affected. Patents may give rise to a monopolistic situation. Hence a balancing act is needed."
He said unlike earlier where copyright was accorded to only books and publications, the recast regime will cover films, music and industrial drawings. A host of laws will also be streamlined -- on semi-conductors, designs, geographical indications, trademarks and patents.
A strong regime on the subject was among India's commitment to the World Trade Organization under the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (Trips) agreement. At the same time the new policy also has flexibilities to protect its developmental concerns, an official statement said.
On one hand it seeks to foster creativity and promote entrepreneurship. On the other, it wants to enhance access to healthcare, food security and environmental protection, among other sectors of vital social, economic and technological importance, the statement added.
"These objectives are sought to be achieved through detailed action points," the statement said.
"The action by different ministries and departments shall be monitored by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, which shall be the nodal department to coordinate, guide and oversee implementation and future development of intellectual property in India."
Jaitley also said that by 2017, the time taken for trademark registrations, "which takes very long, sometimes years", would come down to one month.
Protection of intellectual property has been an assurance which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been giving to the global investor. "I am personally convinced and want to assure you that India is committed to protect Intellectual Property Rights of all innovators and entrepreneurs."
Noted expert on intellectual property rights, Pravin Anand of law firm Anand and Anand told IANS that he was pleased to see a huge change in India's approach in this area in the past two years. "One of the most powerful things being done in 50 years is on intellectual property rights."
The new policy lays down seven objectives:
- Create public awareness about the economic, social and cultural benefits
- Stimulate Indians to generate material for intellectual property protection
- Have strong, effective laws, balance the individual and national interests
- Have a modern and service-oriented administration
- Create value from protected innovations through commercialisation
- Strengthen enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms
- Promote capacity building through human resources, institutions training and research.