Millennium Post

Cabinet okays IPR policy to 'push creativity, innovation, entrepreneurs'

The aim is to create awareness about economic, social and cultural benefits of IPRs among all sections of society, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said while briefing reporters about the Cabinet decisions.

The minister also let out that by 2017, the window for trademark registration will be brought down to one month.

"The policy aims to create and exploit synergies between all forms of intellectual property (IP), statutes concerned and agencies," he said.

According to Jaitley, there are seven objectives that guided the policy mechanism, which include IPR public awareness, stimulation of generation of IPRs, need for strong and effective laws and strengthening enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms to combat infringements.

The policy also puts a premium on enhancing access to healthcare, food security and environmental protection.

It is expected to lay the future road map for intellectual property in India, besides putting in place an institutional mechanism for implementation, monitoring and review.

The idea is to incorporate global best practices in the Indian context and adapt to the same. This policy shall weave in strengths of the government, research and development organisations, educational institutions, corporate entities, including MSMEs, start-ups and other stakeholders towards creation of an innovation-conducive environment, an official statement read. The end product stimulates creativity and innovation across sectors as also facilitates a stable, transparent and service-oriented IPR administration in the country, it stressed.

Giving due recognition to the growing criticality of IPR in the global arena, the blueprint makes out a case for increasing its awareness in India, whether it is owned by oneself or according respect to others.

"The importance of IPRs as a marketable financial asset and economic tool also needs to be recognised. For this, domestic IP filings as also commercialisation of patents granted need to increase. Innovation and sub-optimal spending on R&D too are issues to be addressed," the statement said further.

Moreover, brushing aside concerns of the US on India's IPR regime, the government said its intellectual property rights laws are legal-equitable and WTO-compliant. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made it unequivocally clear that one must encourage invention of life-saving drugs and at the same time "we must also be conscious of the need to make it available at a reasonable cost so that drug cost does not become prohibited as has become in some parts of the world".

"We do believe that the balancing act which India has struck is responsible for life-saving drugs available at a reasonable cost in India compared to the rest of the world.

So, our model seems to be both legal, equitable and WTO-compliant," he told reporters here.
He was responding to a query on US' concerns over India's IPR regime and the country being on the priority watch list in the US Special 301 report. India continues to feature in the watch list based on US assessment of Indian IPR protection as "inadequate". Observing that every country is entitled to defend its economic interest, the minister quipped: "Monopolies are loved by those who own monopolies. They are the only one who own them." 

Defending India's stand, Jaitley said availability of medicines at reasonable cost is necessary, adding that the patent period beyond 20 years can be extended only if there is a fresh invention and not a marginal alteration.
"So, ours is a very balanced approach which I said balances it with consideration of inventability innovation and public health consideration," he emphasised.

The developed countries have raised questions about section 3 (d) of the Indian Patent Act 1970 and compulsory licensing (CL), saying the norms restrict innovation. The section does not allow patent to be granted to inventions involving new forms of a known substance unless it differs significantly in properties with regard to efficacy.

"... marginal alterations which are of not significant medicinal value do not entitle you to a new patent. Only a significant change will entitle to the patent," he added.

"I now understand that a large number of countries world over have followed the section 3 (d) principle. Obviously, there are some pharma companies which are not very comfortable with this and they keep raising this, but I think India's position is reasonable." 

On compulsory licensing, the minister said it is already provided in the patent law and "therefore that existing provision will continue". 
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