In a bid to allay concerns of foreign investors regarding the country’s intellectual property regime and bring in transparency, the government has initiated online filing of patent and trademark application while sensitising people about IPR infringement. Apart from creating additional posts to reduce manpower shortage, it has also started giving fee concessions to MSMEs to encourage them to innovate.
Adopting a multi-pronged approach to deal with investors’ concerns, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has started electronic processing of patents and trademarks, allowing automatic generation of application numbers and allotment of the request for examination to usher in transparency. The department has also initiated e-filing of patent and trademark applications using debit cards, credit cards and internet banking.
In fact to encourage online filing of the applications, the industry department is also giving a 10 per cent rebate. The initiatives have witnessed a tremendous response with online filing jumping from under 30 per cent to over 80 per cent in just a year, the department claims. Given the contribution of micro, small and medium enterprises, which account for 45 per cent of total production and contribute 38 per cent to India’s GDP, the department has also decided to give them a 50 per cent fee reduction to encourage them to innovate and seek protection for their inventions.
The measures are a result of the suggestions made by the six-member think tank of IPR, which was appointed by commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman last year to formulate a comprehensive national IPR policy amid concerns of the United States Trade Representatives (USTR) and US industry lobbies. Last year, the USTR conducted an out-of-cycle review of Indian IP and patent laws. In its annual special 301 report 2015 the USTR rapped India’s IP regime, raising concerns against Section 3(d) of India’s Patent Act.
The report though maintained India in its priority watch list, it said that the Section may have the effect of limiting the patentability of potentially beneficial innovations. In a statement, the DIPP said, “(The aim is to) develop an IP regime to promote creativity and to develop the culture of respect for innovations and creativity.”
Given the ever-rising workload, the workforce has also been enhanced in the IP office to deal with the backlog. An additional 1,033 plan posts have been created, including 666 posts for patents and designs and 367 posts for trademarks and geographical indicators at various levels. The workload can be assessed from the number of applications filed in 2013-14. Some 42,951 patent applications were filed in 2013-14 compared to 43,674 in 2012-13; design applications 8,533 in 2013-14 compared to 8,337 in 2012-13; trade mark applications 2,00,005 were filed in 2013-14 compared to 1,94,216 filed in 2012-13.
Further, the applicants will also be able to get the real-time status with entire file wrappers and e-registers being thrown open to the public. “An innovative tool, showing the stock and flow of patents and trademarks applications at every stage of its processing, has ushered in transparency,” the DIPP said.
Apart from modernising the administration, IPR awareness programmes will also be organised to educate the stakeholders about the benefits of registration of their rights and perils of infringement of IPRs. In due course, enforcement agencies such as state police forces, and the judiciary will also be sensitised about the issue. Kids are also being sensitised through comics based on basics of IPR.
Other measures include:
India has been recognised by the World Intellectual Property Organization as the 17thInternational Search Authority and International Preliminary Examining Authorityin the world. Ever since it began operations in 2014, some 758 international applications have been received and 575 reports issued by India.