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

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The Wrong Incentive

The National Intellectual Property Rights Policy Must Be Opposed

The Wrong Incentive

The National Intellectual Property Rights Policy seeks to enhance creativity. However, it pays scant regard to experience that shows that the intellectual property rights route has rarely enhanced creativity. The policy should be seen in the context of the Indian government's attempts to address US concerns.

On 12 May, the cabinet approved the National Intellectual Property Rights Policy. It is a “first of its kind” policy for India and covers all forms of intellectual property (IP) together. It follows a common set of principles which maximise the incentive for IP owners. The policy proposes/promises a legal and legislative framework of strong intellectual property laws. Strong can mean many things: extending the term of protection, expanding the scope of IP protectable subject matter, increased penalties, facilitating enforcement, expediting litigation, or enhancing the quality of IP. The policy has to be seen in the context of the pressure from the United States (US) government under the country’s Special 301 law. It should also be viewed in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) gaining in favour amongst Ministry of Commerce and Industry officials. The partnership has several TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights)-plus provisions. It is also being argued that it is not possible for India to keep out of mega-regionals. The timing of this policy is extremely significant.

The policy will govern the Patents Act, Trade Marks Act, Design Act, Geographical Indications of Goods Act, Copyright Act, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout Design Act and Biological Diversity Act. As a result, its impact is expected to be felt in sectors as diverse as pharmaceuticals, software, electronics and communications, seeds, environmental goods, renewable energy, agricultural and health biotechnology, information and communication. The policy adopts an IP maximalist agenda of maximum possible incentive for IP owners to drive the future course of development of industry, publicly-funded research and development organisations, educational institutions and government departments.

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