IPR policy to help commercialise patents, copyrights: Govt

IPR policy to help commercialise patents, copyrights: Govt

The Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy will not only incentivise entrepreneurship and innovation in the country, but will aid in the conversion of copyrights and patents for commercial use, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today.

Last week, government announced a comprehensive national IPR policy, which calls for updating intellectual property laws, including Indian Cinematography Act to remove anomalies and inconsistencies in consultation with stakeholders. It also aims to curb the manufacturing and sale of counterfeits.

Indian courts have kept up the rule of law and protection of patents and rights of patent holders have never been undermined, Sitharaman told reporters here.

"But now with this policy, we have given a direction to it, to the whole idea of how we are going to sustain and build on the interest for innovation, how R&D is going to strengthen India's patent related matters and how as a government we are going to help them strengthening awareness," she added.

The Minister further said, "Also, most importantly in India, conversion of copyright of patents for commercial use has never been a vibrant space."

Very few people even bother to register a patent or apply for a copyright and those who did thought that converting it for commercial use was not their cup of tea, she said.

"That dichotomy had undermined the potential that existed. This policy, the way in which we have drawn the action plan for startups and trying to link it all up to creativity and to the larger public, that's where I think the policy has come very well.

"Make it possible for every patent that has the potential for commercial use, make it possible for every copyright that has the potential for commercial use," Sitharaman noted.

Sitharaman said another area where the policy has focused is a "systemic or systematic way" for filing of patents.

"There will be a layer of people who can explain how this can be done (patents and copyrights). How it can be part of your R&D, understand the process, its legal framework under which it works, renewal, if there is litigation over it then a set of lawyers who can help, all this," she added.

Another aspect with this is that India is not going to lose out on its traditional knowledge, the Minister said.

Citing examples, she said India has successfully tested with traditional ways of conserving water and the IPR policy has space for that also.

Countries across the globe are looking at sustainable methods of conserving natural resources and in that India has a wealth of information, which was not saved, she added.

"If Nobel prize could be given to a Chinese herbal expert and world over there is in acceptance that there is a scientific remedy available using these herbs.

"And if Chinese could break through, why is that India, in Ayurveda, has not gone to that extent. If it is possible now, with this policy been announced, we will give encouragement for that," she said.  

Asked if the government will register such traditional practices or knowledge, Sitharaman said, "Government is not going to do any of them. We will encourage people who are going to do it.

"But, at the same time, we will ensure that this is not patented by someone who does not have a historical legacy claim to that system. Like turmeric, like neem.

Nobody will hold a proprietary right over it. Everybody can use it. Its been a public right always and it shall remain like that."

There is a need to make sure that there is an organised systematic way to recognise such traditional practices and knowledge, she added.

"Patent right cannot be held on traditional knowledge and it is for public good. No one can claim a proprietary right over it. Through the policy, a system will be created that will keep an eye on such patents," the Minister said.

This way the government will try to exclude instances of commercialisation of traditional knowledge or practices that are available for common good, she added.

On the US' Special 301 report on IPR, Sitharaman said: "We don't even recognise it as their right. It is a unilateral action. The US may do it if they want to do it, but no country has a right to have a oversight mechanism over any policy which prevails in a particular country on their own.

It has been alleged that India's IPR regime is not in compliance with global norms, a charge India strongly contests at all forums.

On India's move to file 16 cases against the US for violating WTO treaties as certain programmes of the western nation in the renewable energy sector, which are inconsistent with global norms, Sitharaman said it is being taken up and will "happen soon".

India believes that certain renewable energy programmes in the US at the sub-federal level are inconsistent with WTO provisions, particularly with respect to obligation under GATT 1994, Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures and/or TRIMS Agreement. 

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