Intellectual Property Rights in India

Intellectual Property Rights in India

Global Intellectual Property IndexIOCRPriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Prospects of the Global IP Index

Mains level : Intellectual property rights and their protection in India


India has been ranked 40th out of 53 countries on a global intellectual property index, even as the country has shown improvement in terms of scores when it comes to the protection of IP and copyright issues.

GIP Index

  • The Global IP Index was released by Global Innovation Policy Center or GIPC of the US Chambers of Commerce.
  • The GIPC Index consists of five key sets of indicators to map the national intellectual property environment for the surveyed countries.
  • The major indicator categories are:
  1. patents, related rights, and limitations;
  2. copyrights, related rights, and limitations;
  3. trademarks, related rights, and limitations;
  4. enforcement;
  5. membership and ratification of international treaties.

India’s performance

  • India was placed at 36th position among 50 countries in 2019.
  • India’s score, however, increased from 36.04 per cent (16.22 out of 45) in 2019 to 38.46 per cent (19.23 out of 50) in 2020, a 2.42 per cent jump in absolute score.
  • However, India’s relative score increased by 6.71 per cent.
  • India also continues to score well in the Systemic Efficiency indicator, scoring ahead of 28 other economies in these indicators.

Challenges for India

  • GIPC has identified several challenges for India. Prominent among them are:

Patentability requirements, patent enforcement, compulsory licensing, patent opposition, regulatory data protection, transparency in reporting seizures by customs, and Singapore Treaty of Law of TMs and Patent Law Treaty

Measures to protect IPs in India

  • Since the release of the 2016 National IPR Policy, the government of India has made a focused effort to support investments in innovation and creativity through increasingly robust IP protection and enforcement.
  • Since 2016, India has improved the speed of processing for patent and trademark applications, increased awareness of IP rights among Indian innovators and creators, and facilitated the registration and enforcement of those rights.
  • To continue this upward trajectory, much work remains to be done to introduce transformative changes to India’s overall IP framework and take serious steps to consistently implement strong IP standards.
Intellectual Property Rights in India

Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS)Priority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Indian Performing Right Society

Mains level : Civil socities and their functioning in India

  • The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police has registered an FIR against a film producer others for alleged criminal breach of trust and failure of payment.
  • The FIR was registered on a complaint by the Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS). This is the first criminal case initiated by the IPRS after it was re-registered as a copyright society in 2017.

Indian Performing Right Society

  • The IPRS is a representative body of artists, including music owners, composers, lyricists, and publishers of music.
  • It collects royalties due to the artists if their work is used anywhere from a wedding to a New Year function or on radio or TV — in other words, wherever music is played.
  • The body was set up in 1969, and re-registered as a copyright society in 2017, following which it started functioning actively.
  • The IPRS has its offices in Mumbai, and lyricist Javed Akhtar is its chairman.


  • A 2012 amendment in The Copyright Act, 1957 laid down that artists would get 50% of royalties every time their work was used, even if the copyright remained with the production house or the music brand.
  • It meant that every time a song was played in, say, a large party in a hotel or by a radio station, or streamed or even used as a mobile phone ringtone, 50% of the royalty would go to the production house or music company.
  • The other 50% would be split between the lyricist and composer of the song.
  • The IPRS is responsible for collecting the 50% royalty that is due to artists involved in “literary work accompanied to music” — meaning lyricists, music composers, and publishers of music.
  • While even individual artists can theoretically approach the users of their work directly, it is likely to be a difficult and long drawn-out process.
  • As members of IPRS, they have better infrastructure at their disposal to press their claim and collect the money due to them.

How does the process of licensing with the IPRS work?

  • The IPRS has a database of around 10 million songs, including Indian and international numbers, for which it collects royalty.
  • If cases of big events, the IPRS generally approach the organizers beforehand to inform them about the licensing required to play the songs of artists who are registered with them.
  • Most online streaming platforms are registered with IPRS, and licensed to use the artists’ songs.
  • After being re-registered as a copyright society in 2017 under the amended Copyright Act, the IPRS sent letters to all media platforms, asking them to ensure that artists are paid 50% of the royalty as per the Act.
Intellectual Property Rights in India

[pib] Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) ProgrammePIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) Programme

Mains level : IPR protection in India

The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for adoption of Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) programme.

About the PPH

  • The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) is a set of initiatives for providing accelerated patent prosecution procedures by sharing information between some patent offices.
  • The programme would be run by the Indian Patent Office (IPO) under the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks India (CGPDTM) with patent offices of various other interest countries or regions.
  • It will initially commence between Japan Patent Office (JPO) and Indian Patent Office on pilot basis for a period of three years only.
  • Under this Pilot programme, Indian Patent Office may receive patent applications in certain specified technical fields only, namely, Electrical, Electronics, Computer Science, Information Technology, Physics, Civil, Mechanical, Textiles, Automobiles and Metallurgy etc.
  • The patent offices will frame their own guidelines for implementation of the programme.

Benefits of PPH

  • Reduction in time to dispose patent applications.
  • Reduction in pendency of patent applications.
  • Improvement in quality of search and examination of patent applications.
  • An opportunity for Indian inventors including MSMEs and Start ups of India to get accelerated examination of their patent applications in Japan.
Intellectual Property Rights in India

[op-ed snap] Lay offMains Onlyop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FL 2027

Mains level : Pepsico suit against farmers will not benefit anyone.


PepsiCo’s suing nine Gujarat farmers for alleged infringement of its intellectual property rights (IPR) over a proprietary potato variety makes for bad optics, bordering on a public relations disaster.


  • The American food-and-beverage giant enjoys IPR protection in India for FL 2027, a potato variety with high dry matter and low sugar content that is better suited for making chips (normal table potatoes have more moisture, which adds to dehydration and energy costs during processing, and higher sugar that causes blackening on frying).
  • Such protection is, indeed, required for incentivising agricultural research and development of new plant varieties by breeders, both in the private and public sectors.

 Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act

  • Under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001(PPVFRA), over 3,500 varieties across a range of crops — including those bred or improved by individual farmers — have so far been granted registration certificates for up to 15 years.
  • These certificates confer on the breeders the exclusive rights over commercial production, sale, marketing, distribution, export and import of their protected varieties.

Exceptions Allowed

  • However, the PPVFRA simultaneously entitles farmers to “save, use, sow, re-sow, exchange, share or sell” the produce and seeds of any variety protected under the Act.
  • Such freedom is conditional only upon no sale of such seeds in branded form — in other words, being “put in a package or any other container and labeled”.

No violation of IPR

It is clear from this that the Gujarat farmers had not committed any IPR infringement by merely growing FL 2027 potato, even if without PepsiCo’s authorisation.

Mutual benefit agreement

  • PepsiCo may have developed this processing-grade variety solely for its Lay’s chips and for contract cultivation by farmers through a buy-back mechanism at pre-fixed rates.
  • The company claims to be working with some 24,000 farmers across nine states.
  • It’s fair to assume they benefit from the arrangement, both on account of being insulated from open market price fluctuations — huge in potatoes — and also receiving quality farm inputs and extension support.
  • PepsiCo may, in turn, have legitimate concerns over farmers independently cultivating its proprietary varieties and possibly even supplying their produce to rival chips/French fries makers.
  • But that still does not constitute an IPR infringement.

Way Forward

  • It would be in PepsiCo’s best interest to simply withdraw its suit against the Gujarat farmers, without attaching conditions.
  • A $65-billion multinational seeking Rs one crore each of damages from Average Joe farmers of Sabarkantha — that too, during election time — is going to only invite opprobrium and consumer backlash.
  • The losses from that will far outweigh any pyrrhic legal victory.
Intellectual Property Rights in India

[pib] Cabinet approves accession to three new agreements for IPRIOCRPIB


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: All three agreements mentioned

Mains level: IPR protection in India


  • The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for accession of India to:

The Nice Agreement concerned with the International classification of Goods and Services for the purposes of registration of marks

The Vienna Agreement establishing an International Classification of the figurative elements of marks

The Locarno Agreement establishing an International classification for industrial designs.

About these agreements

  1. These are open to States party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883).
  2. Instruments of ratification or accession must be deposited with the Director General of WIPO.


  • Accession to these will help the Intellectual Property Office in India to harmonize the classification systems for examinational of trademark and design applications, in line with the classification systems followed globally.
  • It would give an opportunity to include Indian designs, figurative elements and goods in the international classification systems.
  • The accession is expected to instill confidence in foreign investors in relation to protection of IPs in India.
  • The accession would also facilitate in exercising rights in decision making processes regarding review and revision of the classifications under the agreement.
Intellectual Property Rights in India

Government introduces bill in Rajya Sabha to amend Cinematograph ActPriority 1


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Mains level: Governance of broadcasts and creative industries in India


  • The union government has introduced a bill in the Rajya Sabha to amend the Cinematograph Act and impose strict penalty to combat the menace of film piracy.

Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019

  1. The Bill seeks to amend provisions of Cinematograph Act, 1952, in order to tackle film piracy by including penal provisions for unauthorized camcording and duplication of films
  2. It aims to check piracy, particularly the release of pirated versions of films on the internet that causes huge losses to the film industry and the exchequer.

Curbing Piracy

  1. The bill proposes to make film piracy offences punishable with imprisonment of up to three years and fines that may extend to ₹10 lakh or both.
  2. The proposed amendment states that any person, who without the written authorisation of the copyright owner, uses any recording device to make or transmit a copy of a film, or attempts to do so, or abet the making or transmission of such a copy, will be liable for such a punishment.

Expected Outcomes

  1. The film industry has been demanding for a long time that the government consider amendments to the law preventing camcording and piracy.
  2. The proposed amendments would increase industry revenues, boost job creation, fulfil important objectives of India’s National Intellectual Property policy.
  3. It will give relief against piracy and infringing content online.
Intellectual Property Rights in India

Number of patents granted by India shot up by 50% in 2017: UNIOCR


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Indigenization of technology & developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WIPO Report 2018

Mains level: India’s position in innovation and measures required to promote innovation culture.


  • The number of patents granted by India shot up by 50 per cent in 2017, keeping up a trend of steep increases, according to the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

World Intellectual Property Report 2018

  1. The patents granted by India increased from 8,248 in 2016 to 12,387 last year, a/c to the WIPO’s World Intellectual Property Indicators 2018 report released in Geneva.
  2. Last year’s number was more than double the 6,022 patents granted in 2015, according to WIPO statistics.
  3. In 2016, 1,115 patents went to domestic individuals or entities and 7,133 to foreigners; And in 2015, 822 were granted to applicants in India and 5,200 to foreigners.
  4. While India ranked 10th in the number of patents given last year, no Indian company or university figures in last year’s global list of the top 50 patent applicants.
  5. Pharmaceuticals accounted for 15.7 per cent of the Indian domestic applications for patents last year, the report said.

China is at the Top

  1. China’s patent authority led the world in the number of patents granted with 420,144 and was followed by the US with 318,829, according to the WIPO.
  2. In just a few decades, China has constructed an IP system, encouraged homegrown innovation, joined the ranks of the world’s IP leaders – and is now driving worldwide growth in IP filings.
  3. China received 1.38 million patent applications – which are an indication of patents in the pipeline – more than double that of the US, which had 606,956 applications.

Why such rise?

  1. Demand for IP (intellectual property) protection is rising faster than the rate of global economic growth, illustrating that IP-backed innovation is an increasingly critical component of competition and commercial activity
  2. The WIPO said the steep increase in the number was driven by patents granted to foreigners, which accounted for 85 per cent of the total increase.
  3. Globally, 1.4 million patents were granted in 2017, the report estimated.

Navigate to this page for more readings on WIPO:

[Prelims Spotlight] World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Forest Carbon Partnership Facility(FCPF)

Intellectual Property Rights in India

[pib] Global Digital Content Market 2018IOCRPIB


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: GDCM 2018

Mains level: Governance of broadcasts and creative industries in India


Global Digital Content Market (GDCM) 2018

  1. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP is hosting a conference on Global Digital Content Market (GDCM) 2018 in New Delhi.
  2. The conference will feature sessions on music, film, broadcasting and publishing, as well as collective management, emerging models and the implications for the market and policy makers.
  3. India has been chosen as a host nation for the conference by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) due to the strong creative industry in the country in films, music and media.
  4. The focus for this year’s conference is the Asia Pacific region.

Aim and Objectives

  1. GDCM is a platform to discuss vital issues and enhance development of the digital and IP generating industries such as publishing, films, music, and gaming all of which are major contributors to the Indian GDP.
  2. The aim of GDCM 2018 is to give industry stakeholders a platform to come together and discuss new avenues in the films, music, gaming and creative industry.
  3. It shall also discuss points of challenge that is presented due to the changing creative landscape because of the disruption brought about by digital technologies.


Digital Content Copyrights and India

  1. GDCM 2018 is the second edition of the conference. The first conference was held in Geneva 2016.
  2. It is organised by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Geneva.
  3. The aim of GDCM is to ensure that a creative artist continues to be protected and receives better remuneration on the digital platform.
  4. India has recently approved accession to the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) that has increased the coverage of protection of copyrights in the international IP regime.
  5. This will bring the Indian creative industry under and international copyright system, secure distribution of their work and provide them with a level playing field.
  6. India’s rank in the Global Innovation Index 2018 has improved by 24 places from that of 2015 and now ranks 57th.
  7. India is the top-ranked economy in Central and Southern Asia and has now outperformed on innovation relative to its GDP per capita for seven years in a row.
Intellectual Property Rights in India

[op-ed snap] Reinterpreting public interest broadcastingop-ed snap


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Sports Broadcasting Signals Act, 2007

Mains level: Governance of TV broadcasts in India and how private sector participation is being culled in the name of public interest


Public policy discourse in India

  1. Populist politics tends to lead to short-term policy goals in most democracies
  2. This is why many economic policies aim at instant consumer gratification in India
  3. Part of the job of a responsible bureaucracy is to espouse more balanced public interest objectives
  4. This includes acknowledging the fact that the long-term welfare of market participants such as producers and intermediaries also affects consumers

failure in performing this duty

  1. Ministries like the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) often fail to perform this balancing act for the markets they govern
  2. The MIB functions as a licensor in a broadcasting market where there are hundreds of private operators spanning print, television and radio
  3. The need for economic liberalization three decades ago had already confirmed that licences are inimical to market growth
  4. Today, licencing is reminiscent of a bygone era of acute market scarcities
  5. The MIB shows a persistent bias toward licencing-inspired interventions to stay relevant

Recent move to regulate broadcasting

  1. MIB’s latest rulemaking initiative may permanently distort the market for sports broadcasting in India
  2. The MIB plans to introduce a legislative amendment to force content owners to share live sports signals deemed to be of “National Importance” with the public broadcaster, Prasar Bharati, for re-transmission over private TV distribution networks
  3. It would do so through the relevant Doordarshan channels
  4. A public consultation document has been floated by the MIB in mid-October to this effect

Current process for transmitting sports broadcast

  1. TV broadcasts are carried to over 150 million homes by private cable and satellite distribution networks
  2. Another 30 million homes access public-service broadcasts through direct to home and terrestrial networks owned by Prasar Bharati
  3. The Sports Broadcasting Signals Act, 2007 was promulgated to make sports-broadcasts of “national importance” available to low-income homes
  4. Simultaneously, all distributors are mandated to carry Doordarshan channels by an older law governing private networks
  5. Until recently, Prasar Bharati chose to employ a combined interpretation of both laws to retransmit sports broadcasts acquired under the Act through public and private networks

Bypassing SC judgment

  1. In August 2017, the Supreme Court clarified the obligation of content owners as being limited to sharing of sports signals for re-transmission only over Prasar Bharati’s networks
  2. The MIB now seeks to bypass this judicial interpretation, in order “to ensure access to the largest number of viewers” by amending the SBS Act
  3. This motive is suspect because free sports programming of national interest is already made available on the airwaves under the Act
  4. Any lack of consumption of free programming is simply a function of consumer choice in favour of private networks

Loss of revenue for various stakeholders

  1. It is safe to assume that households which can pay for private networks can easily put an additional dish or antenna to access free sports programming
  2. Conversely, if live signal is carried simultaneously on both paid and free TV, advertisers would naturally pay less for their time slots on private networks, eroding the margins of businesses which own the underlying content
  3. Prasar Bharati would see a windfall without taking any production risk because live sporting events would draw greater advertising revenues than its usual repertoire of content
  4. Reducing the scope for monetising privately-held intellectual property (IP) is akin to throttling the lifeline of the sports economy in India

Narrow mindset

  1. The creation of market value spurs predatory impulses within corresponding line ministries
  2. The MIB is interpreting public interest narrowly and in self-interest—by forcibly acquiring private IP for profit
  3. Re-transmitting the IP owned by others will perpetuate culture of handouts rather than stimulate any impetus towards creating quality public-service content

Way forward

  1. Prasar Bharati barely generates enough revenue to cover its own programming costs—and is dependent on heavy grants from the MIB
  2. Prasar Bharati may soon become completely unable to overcome its structural deficits, like many other publicly-owned body corporates
  3. This would leave Indian consumers worse-off in the long run, even as the proposed legislative amendment nips the growth of the nascent sports economy in the bud
Intellectual Property Rights in India

[op-ed snap] Universities and patentsop-ed snap


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)

Mains level: National IPR Policy 2016 & how it has helped in promoting IP awareness and filing


UGC mandate for IP centres

  1. In its biggest push to create entrepreneurial universities, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has now asked all universities in India to set up Intellectual Property (IP) Centres
  2. The UGC’s call to universities has come after a series of policy directives to introduce awareness about IP in higher educational institutions

Less manpower available

  1. As universities line up to set up these centres, they will face a strange human resources problem
  2. Despite the policy push to have more IP, we do not have enough IP professionals in the country
  3. The dearth of IP professionals is a problem related to the field of intellectual property itself
  4. Its recent rise to prominence in the international arena, thanks to various international treaties and trade agreements, along with with the legal-centric approach where law schools and colleges are the only institutions which mandate teaching these subjects, are reasons why the supply of IP professionals is not keeping pace with demand

Role of IP

  1. Patents help universities to improve their ranking, establish an innovation ecosystem, incubate knowledge-based start-ups, earn additional revenue and measure research activity
  2. The number of patents applied for, granted and commercialised by universities and institutes is factored in in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) rankings
  3. Whether a higher educational institute has an innovation ecosystem could also have a bearing, with the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, awarding up to 24 points to an institute which sets up an innovation ecosystem and has a facility for identifying and promoting IPRs
  4. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) model curriculum for its member institutions lays emphasis on the need for IPR education in technical institutes

Opportunity for job creation as well as leading the world

  1. There is a great opportunity now that should not be missed
  2. India has a poor patent agent density, with only about 2,000 registered patent agents currently in practice
  3. The Central government conducts the only competitive examination in the country to check a person’s proficiency in IP
  4. Any Indian citizen with a bachelor’s degree in science or technology can take the examination
  5. Upon clearing it the person is entitled to practice before the Patent Office as a registered patent agent
  6. Qualifying the exam allows science graduates to draft, file and procure patents from the Patent Office on behalf of inventors
  7. Fine-tuning the patent agent examination to cater to the growing IP needs of the country can be a successful way to build a band of professionals and create career opportunities

Other steps that can be taken

  1.  In a dynamic field such as intellectual property, in order to create a band of qualified IP professionals, there should be a push towards post-qualification continuous education as well
  2. To achieve this, the format, membership, syllabus and the frequency of the patent agent examination will need to be addressed
  3. This will not only increase the number and quality of IP professionals in the country but also become a new career choice for graduates with a degree in science and technology

Way forward

  1. India has witnessed significant changes in IPRs since the introduction of the National IPR Policy in 2016
  2. The new policy has pushed universities to file more patents
  3. The ambitious goal set by India’s IPR Policy rests on how universities embrace patents
Intellectual Property Rights in India

[pib] Cabinet approves accession to WIPO Copyright Treaty, 1996 and WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty, 1996IOCRPIBPriority 1


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WCT, WPP, Copyright Act

Mains level: The newscard highlights importance of ratifying these treaties to strengthen our national IPR Policy.


The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal submitted by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry regarding accession to the above-mentioned treaties which extends coverage of copyright to the internet and digital environment.

Strengthening National IPR Policy

  1. The approval is a step towards the objective laid in the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy adopted by the Government on 12th May 2016.
  2. It is aimed to get value for IPRs through commercialization by providing guidance and support to EPR owners about commercial opportunities of e-commerce through the Internet and mobile platforms.
  3. Both the treaties provide a framework for creators and right owners to use technical tools to protect their works and safeguard information about their use i.e. Protection of Technological Protection Measures (TPMs) and Rights Management Information (RMI).

Benefits of these Treaties

Meeting the demand of the copyright industries, these treaties will help India:

  1. To enable creative right-holders enjoy the fruit of their labour, through international copyright system that can be used to secure a return on the investment made in producing and distributing creative works;
  2. To facilitate international protection of domestic rights holder by providing them level-playing field in other countries as India already extends protection to foreign works through the International Copyright order and these treaties will enable Indian right holders to get reciprocal protection abroad;
  3. To instill confidence and distribute creative works in digital environment with return on investment; and
  4. To spur business growth and contribute to the development of a vibrant creative economy and cultural landscape.


Copyright Act, 1957

  1. The Copyright Act 1957(wef 21 January 1958) (as amended by the Copyright Amendment Act 2012) governs the subject of copyright law in India.
  2. The Copyright Act 1957 was the first post-independence copyright legislation in India and the law has been amended six times since 1957.
  3. The most recent amendment was in the year 2012, through the Copyright (Amendment) Act 2012.
  4. The history of copyright law in India can be traced back to its colonial era under the British Empire.
  5. India is a member of most of the important international conventions governing the area of copyright law, including
  • the Berne Convention of 1886 (as modified at Paris in 1971),
  • the Universal Copyright Convention of 1951,
  • the Rome Convention of 1961 and
  • the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

India accessed as a member of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) in July, 2018.

WIPO Copyright Treaty

  1. It is a Special agreement under Berne Convention (for protection of literary and artistic works).
  2. It came in force on March 6, 2002 and has been adopted by 96 contracting parties till date.
  3. It has provisions to extend the protection of copyrights contained therein to the digital environment.
  4. Further it recognises the rights specific to digital environment, of making work available, to address “on-demand” and other interactive modes of access.

WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty

  1. It came in force on May 20, 2002 and has 96 contracting parties as its members.
  2. WPPT deals with rights of two kinds of beneficiaries, particularly in digital environment –
  • Performers (actors, singers, musicians etc.)
  • Producers of Phonograms (Sound recordings).

The treaty empowers right owners in the negotiations with new digital platforms and distributors.

It recognizes moral rights of the performers for the first time & provides exclusive economic rights to them.

Intellectual Property Rights in India

Why Hasn’t India Endorsed the Broadcasters Treaty Yet?IOCRPriority 1


Mains Paper 3: issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Broadcasters Treaty (BT), WIPO

Mains level: India’s interests attached to BT & IPR scenario in India

Non-endorsement of Broadcasters treaty

  1. Nearly 21 years after the commencement of the negotiations on the Broadcasters Treaty (BT), it seems India is still not ready to endorse it
  2. Until recently, the negotiations were stalled primarily due to a political stalemate on key provisions

Recent negotiations

  1. At the recently concluded meeting of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), for the first time in several years, a recommendation to finalise the text of the Broadcasters Treaty was made
  2. The proposal was supported by all major countries, except the US, Japan and South Korea
  3. India did not oppose the recommendation, but it did not actively support it too

Why is this treaty important for India?

  1. India was the biggest loser due to broadcast piracy in the Asia-Pacific region
  2. The proposed treaty on limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives, limitations and exceptions for educational and research institutions and for persons with disabilities is of utmost importance to India and other developing countries
  3. These proposed treaties are extremely important for ensuring unhindered access to information which is a hallmark of every enlightened society

Way forward

  1. India has one of the most advanced laws as far as the rights of broadcasting organizations are concerned
  2. It is the only country which protects catch-up service of broadcasting organizations – the moot point of the BT
  3. India is either disinterested in the BT or is perhaps still contemplating its position
  4. There is complete harmony between the rights of broadcasting organizations as contemplated under the Copyright Act, 1957 and the provisions of the BT
  5. It is in India’s own interest that it vocally endorses the recommendation to finalise the text of the BT at the upcoming WIPO General Assembly
Intellectual Property Rights in India

[pib] Declaration by the Government of Republic of India relating to Article II and III of the Appendix to the Paris Act (1971)IOCRPriority 1


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: World Intellectual Property Organization, Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works

Mains level: India’s IPR policy and its compliance with global norms

Ratification of the Berne Convention

  1. The World Intellectual Property Organization has notified a declaration referring to the deposit by the Government of India, on October 7, 1974, of its instrument of ratification on the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works of September 9, 1886
  2. The Government of India availed itself of the faculties provided for the Article II and III of the Appendix to the Berne Convention
  3. The said declaration shall enter into force, with respect to the territory of the Republic of India, on March 28, 2018

Benefits to India

  1. The Article II of the Appendix would enable the Republic of India to substitute for the exclusive right of translation of a work, which has been published in printed or analogous forms of reproduction, granted by the competent authority, only for the purpose of teaching, scholarship or research
  2. The Article III of the Appendix would enable the Republic of India to Substitute for the exclusive right of reproduction of a work, which has been published either in printed or analogous forms of reproduction, or in audio-visual form of lawfully made audio-visual fixations, to publish an edition which has not been distributed / on sale for a period of six months, except when either the translations is not published by the owner of the right of translation or with his authorization, or when the translation is not in a language general in use in India


Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works

  1. The Berne Convention deals with the protection of works and the rights of their authors
  2. It is based on three basic principles and contains a series of provisions determining the minimum protection to be granted, as well as special provisions available to developing countries that want to make use of them
  3. The three basic principles are the following:

    (a) Works originating in one of the Contracting States (that is, works the author of which is a national of such a State or works first published in such a State) must be given the same protection in each of the other Contracting States as the latter grants to the works of its own nationals (principle of “national treatment”)

    (b) Protection must not be conditional upon compliance with any formality (principle of “automatic” protection)

    (c) Protection is independent of the existence of protection in the country of origin of the work (principle of “independence” of protection). If, however, a Contracting State provides for a longer term of protection than the minimum prescribed by the Convention and the work ceases to be protected in the country of origin, protection may be denied once protection in the country of origin ceases

  4. India has been the Member of Berne Convention since 28th April 1928
Intellectual Property Rights in India

[op-ed snap] Protect patents: on revoking Monsanto’s Bollgard-2 patentop-ed snap


Mains Paper 3: Issues relating to intellectual property rights

Prelims Level: Bt Cotton, Cry2Ab Gene, Pink Bollworm Issue

Mains Level: Patenting issues in India


Rejection of patent

  1. The Delhi High Court (HC) judgment revoking Monsanto’s Bollgard-2 patent is fraught with problems
  2. Bollgard-2 is an insecticidal technology which uses a gene called Cry2Ab from the soil bacterium Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt)
  3. When inserted into a cotton plant, the gene confers resistance against cotton pests

Why did the Delhi HC reject this patent?

  1. The court reasoned that Monsanto’s Bt gene was useless to farmers unless inserted into a cotton hybrid, which farmers could then grow to repel pests
  2. This insertion is carried out by seed companies, who cross a Bt gene-containing plant (from Monsanto’s donor seeds) with their proprietary cotton varieties
  3. The court argued that this crossing (hybridization) of plants was a natural and biological process

What is the trouble with the judgment?

  1. The insertion of the modified gene into cotton seeds by Monsanto cannot be termed as a natural biological process
  2. The judgment appears to have misled by a step involving human intervention involving in a biological process
  3. Such judgment discourages research in agri-biotech industry

Way forward

  1. Transgenic technologies such as Bt cotton are an important part of India’s cotton production arsenal
  2. The important thing for India is to keep incentivizing the development of such technologies and to use them properly
  3. Strong patent protection is a crucial part of this process


Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt)

  1. It is a soil-dwelling bacterium, commonly used as a biological pesticide
  2. It occurs naturally in the gut of caterpillars of various types of moths and butterflies plant leaves etc.
  3. Bt produces insecticidal action when used in the genetic modification of crops
  4. Bt cotton was the first genetically modified crop to be approved for cultivation in India in 2002, with the introduction of Monsanto’s GM cotton seeds
  5. Other Bt crops used in India: Bt Brinjal, Bt/GM Mustard
  6. Issues with Bt modified crops:  Costly seeds, Gene pool contamination,  Increasing incidence of pest resistance, the toxicity of food crops etc
Intellectual Property Rights in India

CSIR awarded National Intellectual Property Award 2018


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: CII,  Indian Intellectual Property Office, etc.

Mains level: Contribution of the CSIR


National Intellectual Property Award 2018

  1. The CSIR was recently awarded the National Intellectual Property (IP) Award 2018 in the category ‘Top R&D Institution/Organisation for Patents and Commercialisation”


  1. The function organised by the Indian Intellectual Property Office and Confederation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (CII) here to celebrate the World IP Day
  2. The Indian Intellectual Property Office confers IP Award on outstanding innovators, organisations and companies in the fields of patents, designs, trademarks and geographical indications on the occasion of World IP Day every year

Contribution of the CSIR

  1. CSIR Laboratories have been developing and providing technology focused at the unmet need and the cutting edge knowledge base and human resource on the other for socio-economic development in the country
  2. The CSIR S&T domains range from environment to health and drinking water, from food, housing, energy to specialty chemicals and petrochemicals, glass and ceramics to mining, metals and minerals, medicinal plants, leather to machinery, instrumentation and strategic sectors
  3. It is also contributing for the Missions such as Swachh Bharat, Swasth Bharat, Samarth Bharat, Make in India, Innovate for India, Startup India and Skill India


Council of Scientific and Industrial Research

  1. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research was established by the Government of India in 1942 is an autonomous body that has emerged as the largest research and development organisation in India
  2. It runs thirty-eight laboratories and thirty-nine field stations or extension centres throughout the nation, with a collective staff of over 12,000 scientists and scientific and technical personnel
  3. Although it is mainly funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology, it operates as an autonomous body through the Societies Registration Act, 1860
  4. The research and development activities of CSIR include aerospace engineering, structural engineering, ocean sciences, life sciences, metallurgy, chemicals, mining, food, petroleum, leather, and environmental science
  5. Dr. Girish Sahni was appointed as director general of CSIR, with effect from August 24, 2015
Intellectual Property Rights in India

China, India, Canada top US list of intellectual property offenders


Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: US Priority watch list

Mains level: India’s IPR laws and their compatibility with global standards

US Priority watch list

  1. India has made a repeat appearance in an annual report on intellectual property rights violations by trading partners released by the US Trade Representative’s office
  2. China has been on the priority watch list for 14 years
  3. The USTR said neither country had done enough to protect patented and trademarked products

Impact of the report

  1. The report does not trigger any immediate sanctions


Priority watch list

  1. The Special 301 Report is prepared annually by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) under Section 301 as amended of the Trade Act of 1974
  2. The reports identify trade barriers to U.S. companies and products due to the intellectual property laws, such as copyright, patents and trademarks, in other countries
  3. The report contains a “Priority Watch List” and a “Watch List”, containing countries whose intellectual property regimes are deemed of concern
  4. “Priority Watchlist countries” are judged by the USTR as having “serious intellectual property rights deficiencies” that require increased USTR attention
  5. “Watch List” countries have been identified by the USTR as having “serious intellectual property rights deficiencies” but are not yet placed on the “Priority Watchlist”
Intellectual Property Rights in India

India ranks 44 out of 50 nations in global IP index


Mains Paper 3: Issues relating to intellectual property rights

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Intellectual Property (IP) index, National IPR Policy 2016, Patent Prosecution Highway

Mains level: India’s IPR policies and reforms required

International Intellectual Property (IP) index

  1. India has “increased substantially” its score in the latest international Intellectual Property (IP) index released by the Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) of the US Chambers of Commerce
  2. India ranks 44th out of 50 countries
  3. Last year, India ranked 43rd out of 45 countries in the index

About the report

  1. The report analyses the intellectual property (IP) climate in 50 world economies based on 40 unique indicators
  2. These indicators benchmark activity critical to innovation development surrounding patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secrets protection

Reasons behind India’s improved ranking

  1. India passed guidelines to strengthen the patentability environment for technological innovations
  2. It improved the protection of well-known marks
  3. Also initiated IP awareness and coordination programmes, thereby implementing some tenets of the 2016 National IPR Policy

Guidelines on the Examination of Computer-Related Inventions

  1. India in July 2017 had issued ‘Guidelines on the Examination of Computer-Related Inventions’
  2. These significantly improved the patentability environment for technological innovations

Key areas of weaknesses

  1. Limited framework for the protection of life sciences IP
  2. Patentability requirements outside international standards
  3. Lengthy pre-grant opposition proceedings
  4. Previously used compulsory licensing for commercial and nonemergency situations
  5. Limited participation in international IP treaties
  6. No participation in international PPH (Patent Prosecution Highway) tracks
Intellectual Property Rights in India

[op-ed snap] Biologics, patents and drug pricesop-ed snap

Image Source


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Evergreening, biologics, primary patents, secondary patents etc.

Mains level: Very important and comprehensive newscard on the IPR issue. It is very important to know how Indian Patent Law helps in thwarting evergreening practices.

Issues related to Patents

  1. Patents offer their owners market exclusivity for a limited period of time
  2. For medicines, this exclusivity should last as long as the primary patent is in effect, typically 20 years
  3. The end of patent exclusivity is referred to as a patent cliff, because drug prices fall steeply afterwards (by as much as 80%) owing to generic competition
  4. This fall in profits drives pharmaceutical companies to find new ways to postpone their exclusivity by filing secondary patents
  5. One of the most popular of these ways is ‘Evergreenning’

What are primary and secondary patents?

  1. Patents on active ingredients are referred to as primary patents
  2. In later phases of the drug development, patents are filed on other aspects of active ingredients such as different dosage forms, formulations, production methods etc
  3. These patents are referred to as secondary patents

How secondary patents affect the prices of medicines?[some examples]
Novartis’ Glivec

  1. The rejection of a secondary patent for Novartis’ Glivec, a crucial leukaemia cure, was famously upheld by the Supreme Court of India in 2013
  2. While the same was granted in the U.S.
  3. Consequently, the cost of a monthly dose of the medicine in the U.S. was Rs. 1.6 lakh, while the cost of the generic was Rs. 11,100 in India


  1. Likewise, Spiriva, a medicine for asthma, enjoys patent protection until 2021 in the U.S., largely due to secondary patents
  2. All of these secondary patents were rejected in India
  3. As a result, while the monthly cost of the medicine in the U.S. is over Rs. 19,100, it costs a mere Rs. 250 in India

How Indian patent law helps thwart evergreening practices by pharmaceutical companies?
Some features of the Indian Patent Law

  1. As per Section 2(1)(ja) of the Patents Act, the product in question must feature a technical advance over what came before that’s not obvious to a skilled person
  2. Because secondary patents for pharmaceuticals are often sought for trivial variants, they typically fail to qualify as an invention
  3. Further, when a medicine is merely a variant of a known substance, Section 3(d) necessitates a demonstration of improvement in its therapeutic efficacy
  4. The provision also bars patents for new uses and new properties of known substances
  5. This additional requirement is unique to Indian law[and along with Section 2(1)(ja)] ensures that bad patents stay out of the system
    These sections are complemented by other exceptions to patentability
  6. Section 3(e) ensures that patents for combinations of known substances are allowed only if there is synergistic effect
  7. And Section 3(i) ensures that no exclusivity can be claimed over methods of treatment
  8. These provisions also extend to biologics

The way forward

  1. Blockbuster medicines are crucial to the success of public health
  2. But they have been gamed, and rendered inaccessible to the people and governments who need them
  3. In order for these medicines to be accessible, there can be no surer way than to enact strong standards that put bad patents where they belong



  1. Evergreening is any of various legal, business and technological strategies by which producers extend their patents over products that are about to expire, in order to retain royalties from them, by either taking out new patents (for example over associated delivery systems, or new pharmaceutical mixtures), or by buying out, or frustrating competitors, for longer periods of time than would normally be permissible under the law

What is a biologic drug (biologics)?

  1. A biologic drug (biologics) is a product that is produced from living organisms or contain components of living organisms
  2. Biologic drugs include a wide variety of products derived from human, animal, or microorganisms by using biotechnology
  3. Types of biologic drugs include vaccines, blood, blood components, cells, allergens, genes, tissues, and recombinant proteins
  4. Biologic products may contain proteins that control the action of other proteins and cellular processes, genes that control production of vital proteins, modified human hormones, or cells that produce substances that suppress or activate components of the immune system
  5. Biologic drugs are sometimes referred to as biologic response modifiers because they change the manner of operation of natural biologic intracellular and cellular actions
Intellectual Property Rights in India

[pib] Know more about Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM)PIB

  1. Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) has been created as a professional body under the aegis of DIPP
  2. Objective: To take forward the implementation of the National IPR Policy that was approved by the Government in May 2016
  3. CIPAM is working towards creating public awareness about IPRs in the country,
  4. Promoting the filing of IPRs through facilitation,
  5. Providing inventors with a platform to commercialize their IP assets
Intellectual Property Rights in India

[op-ed snap] Generic vs Big Pharmaop-ed snap

  1. Background: Government proposal to change 4-year time limit for State-level drug regulatory approvals to 10 years, arguing that this effectively results in long and damaging data exclusivity
  2. An extension that constitutes enhancement of data exclusivity norms is in favour of large pharma companies, particularly MNCs
  3. What is data exclusivity: intellectual property protection wherein clinical trial and other data of originator drug company cannot be used by DRA to approve generic version of that drug for a certain time
  4. Without such protection, originator company lacks the necessary commercial incentive to conduct expensive trials and take a potential drug to the market
  5. India has long resisted U.S. and EU pressure to institute data exclusivity norms, seeing it as a barrier to generic entry and more affordable drug prices
  6. World over, generic drugs are approved upon a simple showing of bio-equivalence: that the claimed molecule is the same as the one already approved
  7. There is no sense in having the generic applicant repeat all clinical trials afresh
  8. Bio-equivalence must be demonstrated through rigorous studies/data
  9. Unfortunately, our Act is not very clear on the kind of studies/data that a generic applicant is meant to submit
Intellectual Property Rights in India

[op-ed snap] Reading it wrongop-ed snap

  • Theme: The recent verdict of the Delhi High Court in Chancellor, University of Oxford v. Rameshwari Photocopy Services
  • Criticism of the verdict: The verdict takes away all incentive on the part of academic publishers to put in the effort for professional editing and committed marketing.
  • No academic author or publisher would like to see their work being copied and cashed in by other ventures like ed-tech start-ups.
  • The judgement also covers ‘instruction’ in ‘non-institutionalized learning’. But, anyone can be a teacher, and anyone a pupil, in the emerging world of smartphone-enabled “instruction”.
  • If these new non-institutionalised actors in the education space start copying books without taking a licence, publishers will have no choice but to shut shop.
  • A suggestion: The court should instead have explored the creation of a different access model.
  • First, it could have signalled the growth of a library culture in India by mandating that beyond a certain quantitative limit, books can only be accessed through dedicated e-kiosks that are digitally locked and housed within an institutional, non-commercial, library.
  • This would have incentivised our universities to create a vibrant and modern library culture for the sake of enhancing access to their students, rather than entering into unsavory arrangements with photocopiers, as well as help us in better tracking the consumption of academic content by students.
  • Second, the court could have held that in the event of publishers making available digital versions of their books for reasonable prices, only reproduction below a certain quantitative limit would amount to “fair use”.
  • By holding so, the court could have signalled the academic publishing industry to go the digital way, spend less on paper, and adopt an eco-friendly business model.
Intellectual Property Rights in India

[op-ed snap] Copy-wrongs and the invisible subsidy – The DU copyright caseop-ed snap

  1. Theme: Delhi High Court dismissed a copyright infringement petition by three publishers against a photocopy shop located in the premises of the Delhi University.
  2. The judgement: The Indian Copyright Act carves out an exception for the educational use of copyrighted materials, including their reproduction “in the course of instruction.” The judgement stated that the “course packs” distributed by the photocopy shop fall within this exception.
  3. Arguments in favour of the judgement: First, academic publishing has always been a low volume market with a business model based on institutional rather than individual sales.
  4. Due to monopolistic pricing and predatory copyrighting by publishers of scholarly journals, universities all over the world are increasingly moving towards a system of open access journals.
  5. Second, publishers receive implicit and explicit subsidies from the intellectual commons. E.g. academic authors are paid salaries by their parent institutions (mostly public universities and research centres) and academic publishers pay almost nothing for their inputs (manuscripts), or key services (refereeing and editorial oversight), but nevertheless claim “full” ownership rights over the products. But it is publishers and not authors who make millions from copyrights.
  6. Third, University students are required to read widely and their reading lists change frequently. Buying the readings for even a single course at market prices easily adds up to tens of thousands of rupees.
  7. It is precisely because of their relevance for a public good like education that academic publications and educational use are specifically exempted by the Indian Copyright Act.
Intellectual Property Rights in India

Recent India-US trade disputes – IPRs

  1. US has kept India on a priority watch list in its annual assessment of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs), and has had a view that India should strengthen its IPRs
  2. India’s stance is that India is completely compliant with WTO’s Trade Related Property Rights (TRIPS)
  3. However India is not willing to move to TRIPS Plus, a stricter version of TRIPS, as is being sought by the US
  4. US wants India’s compulsory licensing laws for drugs in the interest of public health scrapped
  5. US also wants to remove a certain section in the Indian Patent Act, which prevents patenting of a product unless there is a considerable increase in its efficiency (evergreening)
Intellectual Property Rights in India

India’s IPR regime not regressive

  1. Context: Union Commerce Minister on recently released IPR Policy
  2. IPR Policy will send a clear message to the world that India’s IPR regime is not regressive
  3. The Policy has brought greater clarity on India’s stance on IPR issues
  4. This policy will build on the interest for innovation and Research & Development
  5. US visit: Policy comes ahead of PM’s visit to the U.S. next month when the issue of greater protection and enforcement of IPR may come up for discussions
Intellectual Property Rights in India

IPR policy to promote R&D, bring down waiting period

  1. Context: Union Commerce Minister on recently released IPR Policy
  2. The new IPR policy will give a big boost to R&D and new innovations within the country
  3. Steps are being taken to cut waiting period for trademark and patent registrations
  4. It is a great step forward for India
  5. It would help in creating capacities and institutions to further enhance the robustness of India’s IPR regime
Intellectual Property Rights in India

IPR ensures safeguards for Indian Pharma industry

  1. Changes: In rules of patent (which prevents ever-greening of drug patents), the patent-disabling compulsory licensing(CL), trademarks, copyrights
  2. But there are no changes in India’s commitment at WTO level
  3. India is committed to WTO declaration on Trade related IPR Agreement (TRIPS) and public health
  4. India will continue to utilise the legislative space and flexibilities available in international treaties and the TRIPS Agreement
Intellectual Property Rights in India

New IPR policy retains access to cheap drugs

  1. Context: Announcement of long pending National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy
  2. Aim: To push IPRs as a marketable financial asset, promoting innovation, ensuring availability of essential drugs at affordable price
  3. Approach: Balance consideration of inventability, innovation and public health consideration
  4. U.S. Concern: About rejection of patent application for innovative pharmaceutical product under Section 3(d) of the (Indian) Patents Act
Intellectual Property Rights in India

Make in India not at cost of IPR: USTR

  1. Context: The US Trade Representative’s (USTR) annual Special 301 report
  2. It has placed India on the Priority Watch List
  3. It identified many measures taken by Govt as encouraging in terms of providing a better IP protection regime
  4. But it raised multiple concerns, particularly related to the potential erosion in IP standards due to its push for promoting domestic manufacturing
  5. Special 301: It identifies trade barriers to U.S. companies and products due to a foreign government’s intellectual property regime
Intellectual Property Rights in India

Centre steps in to expedite patent approvals

  1. Context: Making the patent application examination process fast
  2. Time required for clearing the first examination of patent application is between 5 to 7 years
  3. Target: To bring it down to 18 months
  4. Steps: Increasing the strength of examiners of patent- new 458 examiners hired
  5. To reduced pendency, online examination of patents has began
  6. Trademark examination time has been brought down to 8 months from 13 months
  7. Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) is the nodal agency for most Intellectual Property issues including patents
Intellectual Property Rights in India

No patents for standalone software

  1. News: Mere computer programmes, those not in conjunction with a novel hardware, will not be granted patent in India
  2. Context: According to the latest guidelines of the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks (CGPDTM)
  3. Objective: To bring out clarity in terms of exclusions expected under sub-section 3(k) of the Patents Act
  4. So, eligible applications of patents relating to Computer Related Inventions (CRIs) can be examined speedily
  5. About Sub-section 3(k): Mathematical methods or business methods or computer programme per se or algorithms are not patentable
  6. Way forward: The CGPDTM has asked the patent examiners to properly construe the claim and identify the actual contribution
  7. If the contribution lies only in mathematical method, business method or algorithm, then the claim will be denied
Intellectual Property Rights in India

Government to unveil IPR policy in a fortnight

  1. Context: The policy will be entirely compliant with the WTO’s agreement on Trade Related aspects of IPRs (TRIPS)
  2. Relevance: This will have a special thrust on awareness generation and effective enforcement of IPRs, besides encouragement of IP commercialisation through various incentives
  3. Focus: On creating IPR awareness at school/college level by making it a part of syllabus/curriculum
  4. Promote Organisations: such as the National Research Development Corporation to help commercialise the inventions/ patents developed at level of educational institutes
  5. Promote ‘utility patents’ only for mechanical innovations, to protect ‘small inventions’ developed especially in the informal/ unorganised sectors
  6. EU and U.S. objections: To India’s adoption of Compulsory Licensing (CL) in industrial sectors (in the National Manufacturing Policy) by saying it will discourage investment and innovation
Intellectual Property Rights in India

Compulsory licensing in manufacturing may slow investments: EU

The IPR policy is also expected to cover CL as the Patents Act (of India) also deals with CL.

  1. India’s adoption of Compulsory Licensing (CL) in industrial sectors risks affecting the flow of capital and technology from overseas
  2. The extension and wide use of CL in industrial sectors can act as a deterrent for investments, from abroad and within India
  3. India’s National Manufacturing Policy (NMP) supports the application of CL, specifically to ensure access to the latest green technologies that are patented
  4. The government is relying on NMP to ensure that its ‘Make In India’ initiative is successful
  5. The NMP provides the “option” to entities such as the Technology Acquisition and Development Fund
Intellectual Property Rights in India

Govt. to amend patent rules

  1. The govt is in the process of amending the patent rules so that Make in India and startup’s patents are put on a fast track.
  2. The Union Govt is also planning to outsource the job of patent agents to about 1,000 professors in various IITs in the country.
  3. The Centre is also in the process of bringing out a new national policy for IPR.
  4. Intellectual property and patents give companies an edge to compete in the competitive global markets.
Intellectual Property Rights in India

Pan India Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Awareness Programmes

National Research Development Corporation(NRDC) and DIPP, launching series of IPR awareness and capacity building workshops in 25 Universities/Institutions in 21 States of the country.

  1. The objective of this IPRs campaign is to create awareness about IP in academia in wake of new IPR policy launched by GoI.
  2. Connecting IPRs to Make in India and Start up India programs.
  3. It will provide insight into different forms of IPRs, innovation ecosystem, procedural requirements for protection and about challenges faced by stakeholders.
  4. Providing facilitation and techno-financial support for filing patent application in India is one of important promotional activities of NRDC.
  5. IPRs are now being used not only as a tool to protect creativity and generate revenue but also to build strategic alliances for socio-economic and technological growth.
Intellectual Property Rights in India

India, Brazil cross swords with U.S. at WTO on TRIPS

Intellectual property laws are governed internationally by the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.

The moratorium first came into being in 1995, when the WTO was born.

Forget Brazil for a while – what’s America’s grouse with India?

  1. Section 3(d) of the India Patents Act (1970)
  2. This section of the Act defines what an invention is, and has been interpreted by the Indian Patent Office to deny patents for drugs such as Sovaldi, a hepatitis C drug by Gilead Sciences, and Glivec, a cancer drug by Novartis.
  3. The denial of these patents has significant benefits for access to affordable medication in India.
  4. It also has implications for the revenues of multinational pharmaceutical companies and their incentives to innovate.


Intellectual Property Rights in India

[op-ed snap] Defending India’s IPRop-ed snap

  1. India had amended the Indian Patents Act, 1970 to bring its laws in line with the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
  2. The legislation raised the bar for what constitutes an invention and what cannot be patented in India.
  3. Inevitably big pharma have lobbied with their governments to force India to dilute the provisions (US has put India on the priority list).
  4. India may not have an IPR policy but it has a strong legal foundation.
  5. There is a well functioning Patents office with sufficient experience to grant patents and uphold consumer interests.
  6. We need to work towards aligning our IPR laws with global standards.

What are IPRs?

Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) are legal rights, which result from intellectual invention, innovation and discovery in the industrial, scientific, literary and artistic fields. These rights entitle an individual or group to the moral and economic rights of creators in their creation.



Patent- It is a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor for a limited period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention.

Copyright- It is a legal right created by the law of a country that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights for its use and distribution. It includes literary & artistic works such as novels, poems, plays, films, musical works, drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, architectural designs

Trademark- It is a recognizable sign, design, or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others. Trademarks used to identify services are usually called service marks.

Industrial design right- It is an intellectual property right that protects the visual design of objects that are not purely utilitarian. An industrial design consists of the creation of a shape, configuration or composition of pattern or color, or combination of pattern and color in three-dimensional form containing aesthetic value. An industrial design can be a two- or three-dimensional pattern used to produce a product, industrial commodity or handicraft.

Trade secret- It is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, commercial method, or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable by others, and by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers

Geographical Indication (GI)- It is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin (e.g. a town, region, or country). The use of a geographical indication may act as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities, is made according to traditional methods, or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin. A recent example is of Indian variety of Basmati rice getting GI tag.

From above points, it is clear that IPR is a very sensitive issue in terms of businesses different kinds and international relations as well.

IPRs in pharmaceutical sector:

Some sectors are very sensitive in terms of IPRs like pharmaceuticals. Let’s explore briefly into IPR issues in pharmaceutical sector.

We hear of two kinds of drugs- generic and brand name drugs:

Generic drugs are those whose patent has expired or does not exist and which can be produced by any registered manufacturer without need of taking permission from any authority and also without any payment of royalty.

Brand name drugs are those which are patented and cannot be produced without the consent of the patent holder. A royalty is to be paid for production of these drugs.

But what happens if a company holds patent of an essential drug and there is an emergency in which the drug needs to be provided at low cost for vast populace? In this case, Compulsory Licensing comes to the rescue.

What is Compulsory Licensing?

  • A compulsory license provides that the owner of a patent or copyright licenses the use of their rights against a payment. This payment is either set by law or determined through some form of arbitration
  • In essence, under a compulsory license, an individual or company seeking to use another’s intellectual property can do so without seeking the rights holder’s consent, and pays the rights holder a set fee for the license
  • This is an exception to the general rule under intellectual property laws that the intellectual property owner enjoys exclusive rights that it may license – or decline to license – to others

Does there have to be an emergency?

Not necessarily. This is a common misunderstanding. The TRIPS Agreement does not specifically list the reasons that might be used to justify compulsory licensing. However, the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health confirms that countries are free to determine the grounds for granting compulsory licences.

In March 2012, India granted its first compulsory license ever. The license was granted to Indian generic drug manufacturer Natco Pharma Ltd for Sorafenib tosylate, a cancer drug patented by Bayer.

Here, first thing first, What is TRIPS?

  • TRIPS is an international agreement administered by the World Trade Organization (WTO), which sets down minimum standards for many forms of intellectual property (IP) regulations as applied to the nationals of other WTO Members
  • It was negotiated at the end of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1994
  • TRIPS requires WTO members to provide copyright rights, covering content producers including performers, producers of sound recordings and broadcasting organizations, geographical indications, including appellations of origin, industrial designs, integrated circuit layout-designs, patents, new plant varieties, trademarks, trade dress, and undisclosed or confidential information
  • The agreement also specifies enforcement procedures, remedies, and dispute resolution procedures

Now, back to the topic…

India is a huge market for generic drugs and hence it is very obvious that there must emerge issues out of patents for pharmaceuticals.

One such case came up in 1998- Novartis v. Union of India & Others

It was a landmark decision by a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court, on the issue of whether Novartis could patent Glivec in India. It was the culmination of a seven-year-long litigation fought by Novartis. The Supreme Court upheld the Indian patent office’s rejection of the patent application.

Ground of rejection?

Novartis claimed patent for he changed form of Glivec on the basis of the increased bio-availability in the body of the patient by making changes in chemical composition of its original anti-cancer drug Imatinib Mesylate. This changed form of the drug could not withstand the ‘enhanced therapeutic efficacy’ test enshrined under Section 3(d) of Indian Patents Act and therefore it was rejected.

Recently, Gilead got patent for its Hepatitis C drug Solvadi. An application for the same patent was first rejected in January 2015 as lacking inventiveness and novelty. The decision, however, is seen as a major blow to the access to drug movement

Now let’s turn towards the latest developments in the IPRs in India.

New IPR Policy

Govt of India recently released a new National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy which is in compliance with WTO’s agreement on TRIPS

Why a new policy?

  • Global drug brands led by US companies have been pushing for changes to India’s intellectual property rules for quite some time now. They have often complained about India’s price controls and marketing restrictions
  • Also, an IPR policy is important for the government to formulate incentives in the form of tax concessions to encourage research and development (R&D)
  • It is also critical to strengthen the Make In India, Startup and Digital India schemes
  • The IPR policy comes at a time when India and other emerging countries faces fresh challenges from the developed world and mega regional trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Seven objectives:

  1. IPR Awareness: To create public awareness about the economic, social and cultural benefits of IPRs among all sections of society
  2. Generation of IPRs: To stimulate the generation of IPRs
  3. Legal and Legislative Framework: To have strong and effective IPR laws, which balance the interests of rights owners with larger public interest
  4. Administration and Management: To modernize and strengthen service-oriented IPR administration
  5. Commercialization of IPRs: Get value for IPRs through commercialization
  6. Enforcement and Adjudication: To strengthen the enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms for combating IPR infringements
  7. Human Capital Development: To strengthen and expand human resources, institutions and capacities for teaching, training, research and skill building in IPRs


  • The new policy calls for providing financial support to the less empowered groups of IP owners or creators such as farmers, weavers and artisans through financial institutions like rural banks or co-operative banks offering IP-friendly loans
  • The work done by various ministries and departments will be monitored by the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), which will be the nodal department to coordinate, guide and oversee implementation and future development of IPRs in India
  • The policy, with a tagline of Creative India: Innovative India, also calls for updating various intellectual property laws, including the Indian Cinematography Act, to remove anomalies and inconsistencies in consultation with stakeholders
  • For supporting financial aspects of IPR commercialisation, it asks for financial support to develop IP assets through links with financial institutions, including banks, VC funds, angel funds and crowd-funding mechanisms
  • To achieve the objective of strengthening enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms to combat IPR infringements, it called for taking actions against attempts to treat generic drugs as spurious or counterfeit and undertake stringent measures to curb manufacture and sale of misbranded, adulterated and spurious drugs
  • The policy will be reviewed after every five years to keep pace with further developments in the sector

International angle:

Last month, the US Trade Representative kept India, China and Russia on its “Priority Watch List” for inadequate improvement in IPR protection. However, 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. Thus, the government has not yielded to pressure from the United States to amend India’s patent laws.


  • The new policy will try to safeguard the interests of rights owners with the wider public interest, while combating infringements of intellectual property rights
  • By 2017, the window for trademark registration will be brought down to one month. This will help in clearing over 237,000 pending applications in India’s four patent offices
  • It also seeks to promote R&D through tax benefits available under various laws and simplification of procedures for availing of direct and indirect tax benefits
  • Unlike earlier where copyright was accorded to only books and publications, the recast regime will cover films, music and industrial drawings
  • A host of laws will also be streamlined — on semi-conductors, designs, geographical indications, trademarks and patents
  • The policy also puts a premium on enhancing access to healthcare, food security and environmental protection
  • Policy will provide both domestic and foreign investors a stable IPR framework in the country
  • This will promote a holistic and conducive ecosystem to catalyse the full potential of intellectual property for India’s growth and socio-cultural development while protecting public interest
  • It is expected to lay the future roadmap 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


  • According to the policy, India will retain the right to issue so-called compulsory licenses to its drug firms, under “emergency” conditions
  • Also, the government has indicated that there is no urgent need to change patent laws that are already fully World Trade Organization-compliant. So India has resisted pressure from the US and other Western countries to amend its patent laws
  • The policy also specifically does not open up Section 3(d) of the Patents Act, which sets the standard for what is considered an invention in India, for reinterpretation


Published with inputs from Swapnil


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