ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Doesn't India Already Have an IPR Policy?

The National Democratic Alliance government has constituted the IPR Think Tank which, among other things, is to draft the National Intellectual Property Rights Policy. India may not have a policy per se but it has a strong legislation on IPRs, a functioning patents office and mechanisms to grant patents as well as protect consumer interests. The Think Tank has other issues it needs to address, but is this talk of drafting an IPR policy the thin end of a wedge to dilute existing legislation?

In September, Nirmala Sitharaman, the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, expressed the opinion that India does not have an intellectual property rights (IPR) policy but must have one: “India does not have an IPR policy. This is the first time Government will come out with an IPR policy...Developed nations are picking holes in India’s IPR regime because we do not have any policy” (The Hindu, 9 September 2014). Towards this end on 22 October 2014, the government constituted a Think Tank (so titled as well) charged with the responsibility of advising it, inter alia, to draft a National Intellectual Property Rights policy. Further the Think Tank has the following eight additional terms of reference:

(ii) to identify areas in the IPRs where study needs to be conducted and to furnish recommendations in this regard to the Ministry, (iii) to provide views on the possible implications of demands placed by the negotiating partners, (iv) to keep the government regularly informed about the developments taking place in IPR cases which have an impact upon India’s IPR Policy, (v) to advise the Government on best practices to be followed in Trademark Offices, Patent Offices and other Government Offices dealing with IPR in order to create an efficient and transparent system of functioning in the said offices, (vi) to prepare periodic reports on best practice followed in foreign countries, (vii) to highlight anomalies in the present IPR legislations and to advise possible solutions to the Ministry, (viii) to give suggestions on the steps that may be taken for improving infrastructure in IP offices and Tribunals, (ix) to examine the current issues raised by industry associations and those that may have appeared in media and to give suggestions to the Ministry on such issues (DIPP 2014).

The term of the Think Tank is not specified and so it appears that this expert group’s term will be coterminous with the current government’s term. Appointment of the Think Tank and especially the idea of drawing up of an IPR policy has raised considerable concern and doubts in the minds of many analysts who are closely following India’s legal regime on IPR which had undergone some important changes to make it compliant with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

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