The Hon’ble Prime Minister of our country, has a vision of self- reliant India, i.e., the Atma Nirbhar Bharat. It is a movement for India to take charge of the innovations for which we are usually dependent on global/ international suppliers. While introducing the vision to the countrymen, the Prime Minister talked about the 5 “I” of the Atma Nirbhar Bharat. They are:
They say, that Intellectual Property is the oil of 21st Century, it is thus one of the key drivers towards making the nation self- reliant. It not only adds enhancement to our lives, it grows our economies, and sustains our world by ensuring that new, high - quality innovations are continually developed across society. Everyone from a researcher in a laboratory to the innovator dreaming up the next big invention in his garage uses IP to advance their work. From the clothes we wear, to the cars we drive, to the food we eat and the series we watch, every aspect of our life, is touched by Intellectual Property. The intellectual Property laws in our nation, are a form of reward for innovation, protecting the innovators intellect and investment.
Intellectual Property: Amendments and Consequent Growth
The 2012 Copyright Amendment introduced new provisions for better protection of Performance and Phonogram Rights as well as for the better protection of Copyright in cyberspace. This made the laws in consonance with the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Phonograms Treaty (also known as Internet Treaties) which India acceded to in 2018. India also acceded to the Madrid Protocol in 2013, becoming the 90th member of the WIPO’s Madrid System which allows the international registration of trademarks. Following the 2016 Patent Rules Amendment, Indian Patent Office started working as an International Search Authority and International Preliminary Examination Authority for PCT applications, which marked another step towards setting up a vibrant IP ecosystem. The 2017 Trademark Rules Amendment also made several progressive changes to the Trademark prosecution and dispute resolution process.
The amendments were also backed by several policy changes and initiatives. In the period between 2014 and 2016, the government introduced several initiatives like “Make in India”, “Start-up India”, “Stand up India”, “Skill India”, and “Digital India”. These initiatives have proved to be fundamental for the integrated development of trade, commerce, and IP in India. In 2016, The National IPR Policy was introduced which has given a huge impetus to the IP ecosystem in India by creating IPR awareness, increase in IP filings, commercialization of IPRs, and strengthening IPR administration and management.
The data shows that the 2016 IPR policy made India compliant with the WTO’s TRIPS agreement making it one of the most dynamic IPR countries in the world. Before 2016, it took about six years for the Indian Patent Office to grant a patent in India, compared to 22 months in China, 3-5 years for the EU and 2-5 years in the US. Now the time has come down to 2 to 3 years in India. In a landmark move, the policy brought down the time of trademark registration and examination to 1 month from 13 months. The expedited process grants the innovators an impetus in bringing about the new inventions and businesses in the country. The policy also sets an inspirational precedent to the world, by facilitating patent examination in fast track mode, by women innovators. This change was brought in by 2019 amendment.
Conclusion: Benefits and Way Ahead
MSMEs and Startups have been a huge beneficiary of the amendments and new policies. Most of the amended statutes have provided for rebates and other benefits to Start-ups and MSMEs. It is pertinent to note that these MSMEs form a crucial part of the Indian Economy and IPR protection and monetization will strengthen the MSME and do the economy a lot of good.
Even in the times of the pandemic, several innovative ways were formulated to keep the wheels of the IP regime moving. The Courts as well as the Registries adopted virtual hearings to enable parties and stakeholders to attend hearings. Several major changes to the regime occurred this year as well. The Design Amendment Rules were adopted which in addition to introducing several beneficial provisions, also made India’s design classification system align with the one under the Locarno System. The Copyright Rules were also amended which aims at introducing several positive changes including a simplified copyright registration process for computer programs ensuring source code confidentiality, and increased transparency and accountability for Copyright Societies.
As the economy is expected to boom in the post- Covid world, the IP sector is going to witness more growth and development. If the pace at which the IP institutions and mechanisms have grown in the last decade is maintained, India will soon become one of the leading vibrant IP ecosystems in the world.