Stepping up enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights nationwide, the government is now planning to arm police forces with a knowledge toolkit to quickly identify and prosecute IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) violations.
The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management under the Commerce and Industry Ministry has prepared a toolkit in the form of a booklet which can be used as a ready reckoner for police forces across the country which are often poorly acquainted with IPR norms.
"Currently, police forces don't know how to handle IPR violations with the official curriculum only giving cursory knowledge of such issues." DIPP Joint Secretary Rajiv Aggarwal said. As a result, while the government has strengthened norms on the policy front, a serious gap exists regarding on the ground oversight.
The toolkit focuses on IPR crimes, specifically in the areas of Trade Marks Counterfeiting and Copyrights Piracy. In addition to details of offences under various laws, it provides for checklists for registering a complaint and conducting search and seizures.
While the government has provided the material to seven batches of Andhra Pradesh Police, it has also trained a team of the Uttar Pradesh Police at Moradabad.
Patent filings from Indian applicants have gone up by nearly 1.75 per cent in the April - November period, 2016 as compared to the same period from the year before. However, total filings have fallen by 5.82 per cent owing to foreign applications dampeing due to global economic slowdown, the official said.
The national Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy was approved by the Cabinet last year in May aiming to strengthen the IPR regime as well as improve available infrastructure to generate higher levels of intellectual property.
The policy is based on seven broad objectives such as increasing IPR outreach and awareness, speeding up the approval process, incentivizing the public through greater commercialization and effective enforcement of norms.
Customizing IPR programs for specific needs of various industry sectors and reaching out to rural and marginal citizens have been focused on. For the purpose, the government had reached out to state governments to formulate their own IPR policies but the exercise have been slow off the block, the official quoted above said.
Currently, Telengana and Andhra Pradesh followed by Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu account for the highest percentage of patents being filed.
The highly uneven distribution of intellectual property-related legal cases in the country is also an issue. "Most IP cases are registered in metro cities like Mumbai and Delhi, with far fewer number of cases in other parts," said Nishad Nandkarni, associate partner at law firm Khaitan and Co.
On the global front, India continues to be pressurised by developed countries, especially the US, on specific provisions in patent laws. Chief among this is Section 3 (d) of the Patents Act, which stops evergreening of patents after minor adjustments. While major US pharmaceutical companies are the most vocal opponents, their Indian counterparts are also against it.
There is concern over the fact that the policy has kept open the possibility of amendments to such laws, though commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman has ruled out accepting of provisions which are stricter than the current Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement. The pact, which came into force in 1994, sets minimum standards for many forms of IPR for all members of the World Trade Organization.