Last year, Mr. Arun Jately has released a new and renovated IPR policy that seeks to encourage innovation and improve access to healthcare, food security, and environmental protection. His opening statement was "Every country is entitled to defend its economic interests, monopolies are loved by those who own them”. Though I am writing on this topic a bit late but being an IPR professional, I have witnessed the changes by myself and felt compelled to write on this topic.
This policy covers all forms of intellectual property in a single framework and praised by industry professionals. Current government’s approach to strengthening IPRs with a view to foster innovation and protect India’s traditional knowledge is viable. IPRs are often seen as the only way to ensure that creators of knowledge and culture receive returns for their efforts/work. Given the structure of India’s economy and the nature of knowledge production in it, what should be our approach to property rights in knowledge and culture? These issues remain un-debated even as policies continue to be drafted and implemented.
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) launched a scheme “Startups Intellectual Property Protection” (SIPP), which provided “Facilitators” – by reimbursing their professional charges – to assist Startups in filing and processing their applications for patents, design, and trademarks. It is also noteworthy that a lower official fee for Startups filing applications has been provisioned in both the Patent (Amendment) Rules 2016 as well as the Trade Marks Rules 2016.
The Patent (Amendment) Rules 2016, aimed at bringing in more efficiency and faster prosecution of applications. The Indian Patents Rules, 2003 has been amended by way of Patents (Amendment) Rules, 2016. The amendment came into effect on May 16, 2016. The current amendment is substantial, and can certainly have an impact on the patent filing and prosecution strategy, among other things. Below points are very significant in the context of the new IPR rules.
1. Prior to the amendment, Indian Jurisdiction recognized only three types of Applicants, viz., natural persons, small entity and other than the small entity. With the amendment under the new rule, the fourth type of applicant called "Startup" is being recognized and certain benefits are being provided to startups.
An entity will be considered a startup as long as the below-listed conditions (non-subjective conditions are listed in this article) are met by the entity.
-The entity has to be a Private Limited company (as defined in the Companies Act, 2013), or a registered partnership firm registered under section 59 of the Partnership Act, 1932 or a limited liability partnership under the Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2002.
-Five years should not have elapsed since the date of registration or incorporation of the entity.
-Turnover in any of the financial year should not be more than INR Twenty Five crores.
-The entity should not have been formed by splitting up or reconstruction of a business already in existence.
2. One more important amendment is with respect to national phase filing in India. Prior to this amendment, the Indian national phase application was required to be filed as it is at the PCT stage. For many instances, applicants wanted to file Indian National phase application with reduced claims to save on fees or for other reasons but not allowed to do so. This is now possible only after the current amendment, an applicant can delete claims while filing national phase application in India.
3. Another important amendment is with respect to the time period within which the applicant has to put the application in order for the grant once the examination report is issued by the patent office. Prior to the amendment, once the patent office issues an examination report, the applicant had one year to interact (respond to objections) with the patent office and put the application in order for grant. The current amendment has decreased the time period from one year to six months, with an option of a three months extension.
One can clearly see that by amending the rules, Government seems determined to encourage the IP ecosystem in India. Two different objectives from the recent amendments are to encourage the small companies and startups to file more patents and reducing the timeline and unnecessary procedures in the path of patent prosecution. I hope that these changes will soon reflect positive outcomes towards the benefit both, IPR industry in India in India and National interests in IPRs.