This interview was originally published in Business Standard on July 10, 2016.
Kalpana Reddy, senior director of international intellectual property for the Global Intellectual Property Center, US Chamber of Commerce, tells Sudipto Dey why the recently unveiled national IPR policy might not improve India’s scores on international IP index in the short term.
On India’s stand that its IPR laws are TRIPS-compliant:
It is important to recognize that TRIPs (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) is an agreement that is 20 years old, and is not the standard anymore. Standards have changed and businesses need different types of protection. The ways of business have also changed (over the years).
While we respect India’s statement that laws are TRIPS-compliant, that is no longer the question. The question is, have you created a system through your laws or policies that provide incentives for companies to develop new content, new technologies, and are those investments going to be protected.
On key positives and dissapointments from the policy:
On the whole, the release of the policy was a positive development. It crystallized the thinking of Indian government, and provides certain degree of clarity to businesses. What the policy does well is highlight the need to create the awareness that India has to undergo a paradigm shift in how knowledge is viewed and shared. The key takeaway is that IP is likened to innovation. That intellectual property rights is a tool that will drive economic development, and lead to empowerment. With this new policy, there is recognition that IP brings benefits.
In terms of where there might be some disappointments, it would lie in lack of specifics. There are some differences in the draft IP policy released by the think-tank and the final policy. There is a need to look at legal reforms, assess if changes in law are necessary to address inconsistencies, or perhaps enhance the laws to make them more effective.
It would have been better to have more fleshed out recommendations with significant legislative reforms.
On how the new IPR regime will look like:
One of the key changes is creation of a model IP agency in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). In terms of policy and IP management, they will be the principal agency. They will work closely with the enforcement agencies. There is expected to be better coordination as far as IP-related functions are concerned. Having a centralized function in DIPP will help all stakeholders. However, there has to be better coordination between the Centre and the states when it comes to implementation.
On whether the IPR policy will get reflected in the next US Chamber International IP Index. In the latest report released in February this year, India was ranked the second last among 38 countries.
In the near term, it will be very hard to predict. Some aspects of the policy over the long term should improve the environment. If India is able to address piracy and counterfeiting effectively, that should help improve India’s score. For 2017, I cannot give you a prediction. But, by 2020, we should see an uptake in India’s score. If they are able to implement the policy effectively. One of the reasons why India scores poorly in our report is tied to the laws themselves. Without legal reforms, you may not see substantial increase in India’s scores. Industry remains cautiously optimistic on prospects of IP in India.
On the need for short- and medium-term implementation goals:
The policy is designed to explain the government’s views on IP, how IP will be viewed as a subject and influence government’s other policies. The policy is like an over-arching umbrella. Under it, there are recommendation’s that are grouped as seven objectives. It would have been difficult for the government to lay out specific timelines. Our understanding is there has been internal discussion for coming out with detailed action-plan for each recommendation, and putting in milestones or timelines. It will become clearer as the government starts outreach programs tied to the national IP policy.