Contemporary Issues Relating to Intellectual Property Rights in India
The creation of the human mind using intellect and imagination is called ‘Intellectual Property’ (IP). Intellectual Property Rights in India (IPR) is the right conferred by law on the owner or creator of such intellectual property. IPR balances private rights and public interest.
Today IPR plays a major role in most of the sectors. In this era of enriching knowledge, IPR helps develop trade relations, company investment decisions, PR regulations, pricing, market-entry, overseas competitions, collaborations, negotiations and attracting capital, etc.
IPRs have been robustly recognised in the Indian Legal System and thereby, avoiding confusions and frictions amongst owners through statutes relating to patent, copyright, trademarks and design, etc. They are at par with the international convention and treaty relating to IPR such as Trade-Related Aspect of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) and World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
However, IPR faces multiple issues in contemporary India –
Intellectual Property Rights in India
- At the 51st Council Meeting of Asian Patent Attorneys Association, 2005, CJI Y. K. Sabharwal gave the first official recognition to the importance of IPR cases and yet in India TV v. Yashraj Films, on August 21st, 2012, the Delhi HC gave a judgement discussing the legal maxim of de minimis non curat lex, i.e. the law will not resolve unimportant and petty disputes leading to question the importance of IPR suits in India.
- In India, we have a very slow mechanism of the legal system in resolving court cases. Pending cases related to IPR amounts to hinder commercial use of IPR by the real owner. Hence, it is very important to deal with IPR cases with quick precision.
- It has been a decade since the last amendment was made in the Indian Patents Act, 1970, which included patent of food and pharmaceuticals products. There has since been a lot of advancement introduced in this field that requires immediate recognition by the law like nano-technology, biotechnology and surgical advancements, etc. IPR statutes also need to be amended on the new and improved products and services in the market like food, clothing, computer software, e-marketing, social networking sites and smart-phones, etc.
- IPR is a concern in the cyber world seeing as many nets savvy use the means of electronic transmission and e-publishing, etc. Copyright is infringed every day due to web piracy of movies and music through Torrent sites and nothing is being done to curb such practices. INVESTIGATION (CBI)
- Soft law leads to ignoring the law. Business houses and individuals don’t seem to give much importance to trademarks when it comes to their e-commerce websites. This triggered the issuance of the Draft Trade Mark Rules, 2015 by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The rules have, however, failed to emphasize upon e-delivery of trademark services which if not looked into will significantly sabotage the Digital India project.
- There are very few large-scale IPR infringing players in India resulting in no game-changing, financially impeding, fund-raising impacts on the nation which forces the government and judiciary to see IPR in a new light. Huge penalties in isolated cases (Rs 20 million by Rakesh Roshan to Mr Sampat over thump music, Rs 2 crore suit claimed by Suneet Varma over a blue poncho ‘stolen’ by Aki Narula in ‘Bunty Aur Babli’) cannot create enough impact. Due to a lack of impact, most people are still unaware of IPR and thus they don’t realise the infringement.
- On December 12, 2014, the US Trade Representative (USTR) reviewed India’s IPR system, impliedly stating India’s IPR laws need modifications in diverse areas like pharma, IT and publishing, to cater for the concerns of US companies. It showed the potential damage that the present IPR laws could cause to India-USA trade relations.
Such issues are hindrances in the way of development. Thus, India awaits a robust IPR regime. There are some suggestions to combat these issues and the initiatives already taken in the light of these suggestions as follows:
- The sensitizing legislature, enforcement officials and judiciary to amend IPR laws to facilitate recent advancements, enhance transparency and establish special Tribunals for quick resolution
of IP suits.
- Establishing a group consisting of stakeholders and legislators so as to facilitate debates and discussions on IP laws in accordance with the socio-economic-political needs of India. (The Digital India project launched by PM Modi on July 1, 2015.) (NIPO has been set up to help businesses shoulder CSR as corporate IP owners by creating IP awareness.)
- Competitive market beyond consumerism. (Top CEOs from India and abroad invested US$66 billion to the Digital India project.) (Mukesh Ambani announced setting up of ‘Jio Digital India Start-Up Fund’).
- A National IP Policy (with IT law for cyberspace issues) will help India cover all the realms of IP law and renew the international trust facilitating collaborations, partnerships and negotiations.
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