Indian industrys awareness about IPs role in competitiveness needs to be enhanced

Written by Prachi Raturi Misra | Updated: Nov 15 2009, 03:05am hrs
Narendra K Sabharwal, deputy director-general, cooperation for development sector, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is responsible for technical assistance and capacity building in area of intellectual property in developing nations. He joined WIPO as director of Asia and Pacific Bureau in August 1991 and was responsible for the development of cooperation programme and activities of WIPO in the region. Sabharwal, in an interview to FEs Prachi Raturi Misra talks about IPR, counterfeit products and challenges to counter them. Excerpts:

How has globalisation changed things in India when it comes to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Globalisation along with advances in new technologies and the digital environment have magnified the role of innovation and knowledge in the development process. Intellectual property (IP) has become one of the main driving forces for stimulation and diffusion of innovation and creativity in knowledge-based economies. By its broad and cross-cutting nature, IP has also acquired a new salience to some of the most pressing global and public policy issues such as health care, food security, climate change, preservation of biodiversity, traditional knowledge and cultural heritage. The filing of patents and trademarks in India has shown a healthy growth in recent years, signifying greater attention by Indian inventors and creators to protect new ideas and concepts by using various IP tools. In certain industries like publishing, information technology and software, films, music and performing arts, India is a significant global player and will continue to benefit from an effective copyright protection. Ultimately, the challenge for India, as for all countries, in the globalised world, is to optimise ways in which IP could catalyse the enormous innovative potential of its people, generate wealth and enhance social welfare and cultural development. Therefore, it is important to consider IP as part of a broader national innovation and development strategy.

How much is India in sync with the rest of the world

India has emerged as an important player in the national and international IP arena. Indeed, the progress in modernising the IP system in India has been impressive. Concrete measures have been taken by the country towards establishing an effective, modern and balanced IP system and developing national capacities in different sectors of the economy for creating, managing and leveraging IP assets. These include the upgrading of IP laws in conformity with international obligations and national priorities; undertaking significant steps for modernising the administrative and institutional infrastructure, notably the Indian IP Office; developing human resources and skills by building teaching and training capabilities; extending public outreach; and, creating a favourable environment to enable the user community to create and utilise IP assets.

Technology has changed things dramatically. How well are the challenges being faced

New technologies have transformed the way we communicate, interact and do business. The advances in technology have increased the propensity to acquire property rights in new and emerging technologies frequently across national boundaries. The speed with which these technologies have emerged presents a significant challenge to ensure that the legislative framework for IP continues to deliver on its core mission, namely to foster innovation and creativity in a balanced and appropriate manner. For example, digital technology has generated an enormous capacity for perfect copying combined with the greatest distribution power of the Internet. While creating expanded opportunities for legitimate business, digital technologies have highlighted the urgent need for IP policy makers to ensure the maintenance of a balanced IP environment for the protection and enforcement of the rights of the creators, performers and their business associates.

What is the larger impact of counterfeiting on the industry and which sectors are directly affected

Counterfeiting endangers health and safety, undermines innovation and creativity and thwarts legitimate economic activity. While luxury goods producers have been the traditional targets of counterfeiters, today, industries as diverse as entertainment, cosmetics, foodstuffs, electronics, auto parts artifacts of traditional cultural systems and most alarmingly, medicines, are under threat. One estimate suggests that trade in counterfeit and pirated goods across national borders may have totalled around $200 billion. If digital piracy and other violations of IP rights were included, this figure could rise by several hundred billion dollars.

What are the remedial measures being taken by WIPO

The programme and budget of WIPO focusses on building respect for IP as one of the nine strategic goals of the organisation. A platform has been made available within WIPO for coordinating activities relating to counterfeiting and piracy, public education, assistance and exchange of information, through the WIPO Advisory Committee on Enforcement (ACE).

Are we exploiting fully the potential of IP rights as a catalyst for economic and social development

Studies on the contribution of copyright protected industries to the economy, conducted or sponsored by WIPO in over 19 countries, show 5.5% of the GDP and 5.6% of total employment is contributed by the creative industries. IP is increasingly being used by the corporate sector as a powerful catalyst for applying new ideas and creativity to economic life, generating new industries, new products and new services, while reinforcing traditional areas of commercial and industrial enterprise. The ability to create, protect and exploit IP has become the core competency of many enterprises.