The government is working on a new, comprehensive policy on intellectual property rights (IPR), which would pave the way for setting up special IPR courts comprising experts to fast-track adjudication on infringement cases concerning all forms of IPRs, official sources told FE.
It also proposes to “mainstream” ‘jugaad’ — or an indigenous version of incremental invention with meagre resources — in the IPR landscape as a “utility patent”.
A separate legal regime for ‘utility patents’, which would be in compliance with the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Related aspects of IPRs Agreement (TRIPS), has also been proposed. The regime would have a less stringent criteria — where the registration process is simpler and the grant of the ‘utility patent’ faster — as well as lesser costs to the applicant, both when compared to a normal patent.
However, since ‘utility patents’ will be for incremental innovations, the exclusive rights of the inventor holding such a patent will be only for 5-7 years from the date of filing a patent, unlike the 20 year-protection for a normal patent. A committee of IPR chairs of 20 leading universities including the National Law Schools and IITs is meeting on Monday.
The aim is to discuss with the government the way forward on ‘utility patents’, including an effective system for enforcement and dispute resolution.
A commerce and industry ministry discussion paper on ‘utility models’ in 2011 pointed out that several international pacts such as the Patent Cooperation Treaty, TRIPS and the Paris Convention for protection of IPRs have given recognition to the ‘utility model’. About 55 countries, including Brazil, China, Japan and Indonesia and two inter-governmental organisations have protection for ‘utility models’ though pharmaceutical products are mostly excluded from this framework, it said, adding that as per some independent studies, about 130 countries have adopted the utility model system.
There is broad support within the government and the industry for the concept of ‘utility patents’ in India and a separate law for it. This is because of a finding that most of India’s merchandise imports can be manufactured in the country. Therefore, giving legal recognition to ‘jugaad’ could not only incentivise incremental innovation in the country but also lead to more innovative manufacturing and creation of IPRs in the country.
‘Utility patents’ are mainly aimed helping micro and small enterprises, grass-root-level innovators, artisans, non-government organisations, organisations like the National Innovation Foundation, as well as universities and schools. This will, in turn, aid in starting an ‘innovation movement’ and establishing a databank of innovations and technology. All this will lead to the entire manufacturing-related sectors going through a learning process and then graduating to the normal patent system.
However, the concerns include the difficulties that the severely short-staffed patent offices will face if there is a flood of ‘utility patent’ applications and later disputes. The government, therefore, is considering a separate administrative and adjudicative structure for ‘utility patents’. Soon, there will be consultations with the judiciary and the law ministry on the issue.
Arun S | The Financial Express