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Editorial Articles

Issue no 30, 22-28 October 2022

National Intellectual Property Awareness Mission

Towards a Knowledge-based Economy


BS Purkyastha


A few days before India celebrated its 76th Independence Day on August 15, 2022, came the news that the National Intellectual Property Awareness Mission (NIPAM) had achieved the target of imparting Intellectual Property (IP) awareness and basic training to one million students. NIPAM was launched on 8th December 2021 as a part of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' celebrations. The programme is implemented by Intellectual Property Office, the Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks (CGPDTM), Ministry of Commerce and Industry. During the period between 8th December 2021 and 31st July 2022, the following milestones were achieved:

1.       No. of participants (students/ faculty) trained on IP: 10,05,272

2.       Educational institutes covered: 3662

3.       Geographical coverage: 28 States and 7 Union Territories. While NIPAM has achieved its immediate aim of spreading awareness on IPR to 1 million students, the bigger goal is to inculcate the spirit of creativity and innovation among India's youth. Let us now see what intellectual property is and why it is important for our citizens to be aware about the benefits of intellectual property rights and how best to use them to further the economic and technological prowess of the nation. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) defines intellectual property (IP) as creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, and symbols, names and images used in commerce. IP is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. Intellectual Property Rights can be divided into two main sections:


(A)  Copyright and rights related to copyright: The rights of authors of literary and artistic works are protected by copyright. These works are books and other writings, paintings, sculptures. Even computer programs, films and music are included. It is valid for a minimum period of 50 years after the death of the author.

(B)  Industrial Property: It can be divided into two main sections - (i) trademarks (ii) geographical indications. A trademark is a symbol, phrase, or insignia that is recognizable and represents a product that legally separates it from other products. A trademark is exclusively assigned to a company, meaning the company owns the trademark so that no others may use or copy it. A trademark is often associated with a company's brand. These would include company or brand logos, insignias, etc.


Geographical Indications (GIs) recognize a good as originating in a particular place. Some specific characteristics of the good are related to its geographical origin. Examples of GI products/ natural resources would be Basmati rice, Darjeeling tea or Kolhapuri chappals. The protection may last indefinitely. The only point is that the sign in question should continue to be unique and distinctive. Related to Industrial designs and trade secrets- Some types of industrial property are protected primarily for innovation and design. Also, protection of particular technology would be included. Inventions, industrial designs and trade secrets protected by patents are essential examples of this category. A trade secret is a company's process or practice that is not public information, which provides an economic benefit or advantage to the company or holder of the trade secret. Trade secrets must be actively protected by the company and are typically the result of a company's research and development. Patent right is granted for a limited period of time, i.e., 20 years from the date of filing. It gives territorial right, exclusive right on an invention, manufacturing process or usage technique and can be enforced only in the country where it has been granted.


Benefits of Intellectual Property Š

·         IPR provides the creator an exclusive right over his/her creation so that no one else can make misuse his/her creation.

·         Such legal protection promotes innovation among youth and leads to many new useful inventions.

·         IPRs also have a positive impact on the economic growth of a nation, as new inventions and innovation creates more job opportunities. Š

·         Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) also promotes the ease of doing business, as a creator can use his/her exclusive creation to become an entrepreneur. Š

·         New inventions and developments also attract more FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) and also boost the economy. By striking the right balance between the interests of innovators and the wider public interest, the IP system aims to foster an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish. India is a member of the World Trade Organization. It is committed to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS Agreement). India is also a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). WIPO is responsible for the promotion of the protection of intellectual property rights throughout the world.


National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy 2016

The National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy 2016 was adopted in May 2016. Its motto is "Creative India; Innovative India". It actually brings all IPRs to a single platform. It views IPRs holistically, taking into account all interlinkages and thus aims to create and exploit synergies between all forms of Intellectual Property (IP), concerned statutes and agencies. It sets in place an institutional mechanism for implementation, monitoring, and review. Importantly, it also aims to incorporate and adapt global best practices to the Indian scenario. Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, has been appointed as the nodal department to coordinate, guide and oversee the implementation and future development of IPRs in India. The 'Cell for IPR Promotion & Management (CIPAM)', under the aegis of DIPP, was entrusted with the implementation of the objectives of the National IPR. Intellectual Property Rights awareness is vital to Generation of IPRs and then Commercialization of IPRs which is why IPR Awareness: Outreach and Promotion is the first and foremost objective of the National IPR Policy. There is a need to create IP awareness amongst all sections of societies as IPs are creations of the mind. The Policy envisions an India where students in schools and colleges and universities, industry clusters and citizens across India in Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 cities as well as rural areas are educated and made aware about their Intellectual Property Rights. In order to enforce IP rights of individuals/companies, it is important that the country's enforcement agencies and judiciary are sensitized and up to date with the latest IP laws.


Scheme for IPR Awareness

IPR Awareness is critical to shaping an environment conducive to IP and ensuring we respect each other's IP. For this, DIPP has approved and sanctioned the 'Scheme for IPR Awareness' for conducting awareness workshops/ seminars in schools, universities, industry clusters and training & sensitization programmes in enforcement agencies and the Judiciary.


Salient Features of the Scheme

The scheme targets to conduct IP awareness workshops/seminars in collaboration with industry organizations, academic institutions and other stakeholders across the country. It is also proposed to undertake training programmes to create a resource pool of trainers who would conduct the IP Awareness workshops/seminars for the public, enforcement agencies and judiciary. These awareness programmes are tailored for four categories: Primary School (up to Grade 8), Secondary School (Grade 9 to Grade 12), University/ College and Industry, including MSMEs and Startups. However, two or more categories may be combined in any awareness programme. Workshops/ Seminars for the industry are further tailored to cover vital IP topics including all facets pertaining to inter-alia, Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights, GIs, Designs, Plant Varieties, Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge (including international filing procedures in accordance with PCT and Madrid protocol) among MSMEs, Startups, various IP generating sector-specific industries and R&D entities. Workshops/Seminars on promotion of GIs, on the ill effects of piracy and counterfeiting, and conducting IP training and sensitization programmes for enforcement agencies (Police, Customs) and Judiciary, come under the IPR Awareness scheme.


Outcome of the Scheme

This scheme will help in realizing the goals of the National IPR Policy. Enhanced IPR awareness amongst the citizens of the country would result in an increased IP portfolio of the country - this would mean an increase in the IP's generated domestically, increased competiveness of the Indian industry both domestically and globally as well as economic growth. A concerted effort would stimulate a dynamic, vibrant and well balanced IPR system in India to: Foster creativity and innovation and thereby, promote entrepreneurship and enhance socio-economic and cultural development. Focus on enhancing access to healthcare, food security and environmental protection, among others.


Role of the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks

The Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks (CGPDTM) supervises the working of the Patents Act, 1970, as amended, the Designs Act, 2000 and the Trade Marks Act, 1999 and also renders advice to the Government on matters relating to these subjects. In order to protect the Geographical Indications of goods, a Geographical Indications Registry has been established in Chennai to administer the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 under the CGPDTM. The Patents Rules have been amended in 2016, 2017 and 2019 while the Trademarks Rules have been amended in 2017 to achieve the objective of removing procedural inconsistencies and unnecessary steps in processing of applications to speed up grant/registration and final disposal. The "Scheme for Facilitating Startups Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP)" was launched in 2016 to encourage and facilitate IPR protection by Startups and the same has been extended up to March 2023. The Scheme is implemented by the office of CGPDTM and provides facilitators to Startups for filing and processing of their applications for patents, designs and trademarks. The Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks (CGPDTM) is located at Mumbai. The Head Office of the Patent office is at Kolkata and its Branch offices are located at Chennai, New Delhi and Mumbai. The Trade Marks registry is at Mumbai and its Branches are located in Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad and New Delhi. The Design Office is located at Kolkata in the Patent Office. The Offices of the Patent Information System (PIS) and National Institute of Intellectual Property Management (NIIPM) are at Nagpur. The Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Intellectual Property Management (RGNIIPM) under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry is engaged in conducting Training, Awareness programs relating to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR's) i.e. Patents, Designs, Trademarks, Geographical Indications & Copyrights. RGNIIPM has been established at Nagpur as a national center of excellence for training, management, research, education in the field of Intellectual Property (IP) Rights. IPRs are considered as a barometer of R&D activities, encourages technology transfer, national/foreign direct investments & helps in technological / industrial development. From last many years it was observed that, filing of IP applications is not increasing at higher rate despite significant contribution towards R&D by various Institutes, Scientist and R&D organizations, teachers, students, etc. Hence in order to implement National IP policy, RGNIIPM has been upgrading IP skills of professors, scientist, students/ researchers etc. through in-depth training & create IP Awareness programs at RGNIIPM.


Objectives of RGNIIPM's Training & Awareness Programmes:

·         To provide in house training to IPO officials,

·         To conduct Refresher courses for IPO officials periodically, Š

·         To conduct training programmes on IPRs for different types of stakeholders,

·         To upgrade IP skills of Academic faculties and researchers by organizing IP training,

·         To aware Govt. officials like Police, custom officials etc. about IP enforcement related issues,

·         To give training to High Court and District Judges to familiarize them with IPRs,

·         To train legal professionals for updating the knowledge in enforcement & implementation of IP laws, Š

·         To increase the awareness by conducting awareness programs on IPR's.


Salient features of National Intellectual Property Awareness Mission

The National Intellectual Property Awareness Mission (NIPAM) is a concerted effort to spread awareness about IPR among the student community. While the immediate aim was to provide awareness on intellectual property and its rights to 1 million students, the bigger goal is to inculcate the spirit of creativity and innovation to students of higher education (classes 8 to 12) and ignite and inspire the students of College/Universities to innovate and protect their creations. It, therefore, focuses on workshops/ seminars in educational institutions and the like. The NIPAM is being implemented by Intellectual Property Office, the Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks (CGPDTM). Under the aegis of NIPAM, officials from the National Institute of Intellectual Property Management and Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks (CGPDTM) conduct workshops for students where they highlight the need to be aware of IPR rights in contemporary times and how the workshop would benefit the institution as well as the participants in their future endeavors as innovators. Guidance on various facets of IPR, patents, trademarks, the process of filing for IPR, the need to file IPR as well as the measures to report IPR violation are given in these workshops. A free-ofcost event, certificates of participation are issued by the Indian Patent Office (IPO) later. Currently, a public poll is being conducted by The Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks (CGPDTM) on the most liked Geographical Indication (GI) in India. Users can participate in the poll by providing their names, email addresses and mobile numbers. The poll, open till October 2nd, 2022, allows users to choose the GIs most liked by them under each GI category, namely Agriculture, Food Stuff, Handicraft, Manufactured and Natural.


Filing of Patents: What Numbers Say

With the thrust given on innovation and patent filing, patent applications have risen from 45,444 in 2016-17 to 66,440 in 2021-22. Patents granted in India, too, have gone up from 9,847 to 30,074 over this period. There has also been an increase in the share of residents applying for patents from less than 30% in 2016-17 to 44.5% in 2021-22. For the first time in the last 11 years, the domestic patent filing has also surpassed the number of patents filed by non-Indians at the Indian patent office in the last quarter of FY22. However, India still lags way behind its global peers as the number of patents filed in 2020 was only 4% of those filed in China and 9.5% of those filed in the US, according to a working paper of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council by Sanjeev Sanyal and Aakanksha Arora. In 2020, the number of patents filed in India was 56,771, just 4 percent that of China where 14.97 lakh applications were filed and 9.5 percent of US where 5.97 lakh applications were filed in the same year. Similarly, the patents granted in India were 26,361 as compared to 5.3 lakh in China and 3.5 lakh in US, it pointed out. Moreover, according to the paper, in India, it takes about 58 months on average to dispose of a patent application as compared to about 20 months in China and 23 months in the US. As such, not only do our young scientists, entrepreneurs, innovators and students have to be made aware of the patent regime but also how to go about registering a patent. An evolved intellectual property rights regime is the basic requirement for a knowledge-based economy. In order to take forward the National IPR Policy and to enhance creativity, innovation, competitiveness and economic growth in India, it is imperative to harness IP. With phenomenal growth of the Indian Economy it is vital that IPRs are generated in India and then legally protected and exploited. Inadequate knowledge about the rights of individuals to protect their ideas and innovations and low awareness about the procedures involved in obtaining an IPR has hindered India's growth in Intellectual Property. With India's potential and its importance in the global arena, it's time we rise and become a leader in innovation and IP. One of the ways forward is to strengthen the NIPAM programme further to nurture and encourage innovation and creativity, thereby contributing towards cultural and economic development of the society through a revamped manner utilizing the existing resources of the IP Office in collaboration with Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), AICTE, UGC, etc.


(The writer is a freelance journalist and can be reached at ideainks2020@ gmail.com)


Views expressed are personal.