Think tank set up to advise govt on IPR

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 25 2014, 06:03am hrs
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has constituted a six-member intellectual property rights (IPR) think tank to draft the National Intellectual Property Rights Policy and to advice the government on IPR issues.

Last month, the government had said that it will bring out a liberal and comprehensive IPR policy within six months that will address the concerns of the developed world while safeguarding Indias interests. The DIPP, the nodal body administering the IPR regime consistent with Indias international commitments, will come out with a draft discussion paper by January 2015.

This will be kept open on the DIPP website for suggestions from the general public and all stakeholders for another two months, following which the comprehensive policy will be announced.

The think tank will be chaired by justice Prabha Sridevan. Its members include advocates Pratibha Singh and Punita Bhargava, Unnat Pandit of Cadila Pharmaceuticals, Narendra K Sabharwal (former deputy director general of World Intellectual Property Organization) and Rajeev Srinivasan of the Thiruvananthapuram-based Asian School of Business.

The panel will identify areas in the IPRs where study needs to be conducted and will furnish recommendations to the DIPP. It will provide views on the possible implications of demands placed by the negotiating partners and keep the government informed about the developments in IPR cases that have an impact upon Indias IPR policy.

It will advise the government on best practices to be followed in IPRs, including in foreign countries, to create an efficient and transparent system of functioning in IPR-related offices in the country. It will also examine the current issues raised by industry associations and those that appeared in media.

The move comes against the backdrop of Indias allegations that the US was taking a unilateral measure through the Special 301 process to create pressure on countries to accept IPR protection beyond the agreement on trade-related IPRs. In April, the Special 301 report (an annual review of the global state of IPR protection and enforcement) had classified India as a priority watch list country. Separately, the European Union has been pitching for a special IPR dispensation for pharmaceutical companies from the bloc under the proposed India-EU free trade pact.

New Delhi had said the Special 301 process is an extraterritorial application of the domestic law of a country and is not tenable under the overall WTO regime.

The Special 301 report flagged concerns over Section 3(d) of Indias Patent Act and compulsory licensing. Section 3(d) does not allow a patent to be granted to inventions involving new forms of a known substance unless it differs significantly in properties with regard to efficacy.

The move comes at a time when the Modi government is carrying out a massive skilling exercise aimed at generating employment in the manufacturing sector to raise its share in the countrys GDP from around 16% to 25% by 2022. A strong IPR regime is considered complementary to this effort as many global companies, especially transnational pharma majors from the US and EU have long said that they could set up manufacturing and R&D facilities in India provided the IPR regime is strengthened.

The IPR policy will not be restrictive or regressive but it will only give clarity and consistency without any overlap or contradictions. It is also to protect at an international level Indias IPR interests, our heritage, our achievements in pharma, especially generics, the advances we make in science and technology, as well as the patents we file, commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said.