IPR scenario in India
India ranks 42nd among the 55 leading global economies on the International Intellectual Property (IP) Index 2023 declared by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The International IP index evaluates the IP framework in each economy across 50 unique indicators representing economies with the most effective Intellectual Property systems. The indicators cover the overall IP ecosystem and extend to nine categories of IP protection – Copyright, Patents, Trademarks, Trade Secrets, Design Rights, Commercialization of IP Assets, Systematic Efficiency, Enforcement, Ratification of International Treaties and Membership.
The budget 2023-2024 allocated INR 281.60 crores for the IP ecosystem, covering the copyright office and Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks. The 15% enhancement in funds is allocated to further nourish the Intellectual Property Rights Policy Management, Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) and infrastructure development in Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks.
India is a member of the World Trade Organization, and World Intellectual Property Organization; also a signatory of the Agreement of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS Agreement). Following the guidelines by the WIPO for the protection of intellectual property rights throughout the world, in May 2016, India adopted the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy 2016 with a clarion call, “Creative India; Innovative India”. The policy acts as a guiding document for the future.
Where Does India stand in the IP ecosystem in terms of noble innovations?
The year 2023 can be called the year of patents, as we see a sharp rise in patent filing since 2020 (when the pandemic started) authenticates the famous saying “necessity is the mother of invention”.
The data in the graph show that the number of patent filings in India in the AI domain has been steadily increasing yearly. In the last five years, overall patent filings have increased by nearly 1.4 times, while AI-related patent filings have increased by a whopping 6.1 times. The patent filings in the AI domain have risen from 1.3% in 2017 to a staggering 6.1% in 2022.
Unlike the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Patent Office (EPO), and the Japanese Patent Office (JPO), the Indian Patent Office (IPO) has not approved completely separate guidelines to examine AI-related innovations. These inventions are being reviewed in accordance with the Computer-Related Inventions Guidelines 2017. (CRI guidelines). In other words, AI-related inventions are scrutinised in light of the subject matter exclusions established by Section 3(k) of the Indian Patents Act, 1970. Section 3(k) proscribes patentability of “mathematical methods, business methods, computer programmes per se, and algorithms”. The CRI guidelines have clarified what should be prohibited and what ought to be allowed in terms of mathematical methods, business methods, computer programmes in general, or algorithms.
The trend of AI patent filings in India has been steadily increasing in recent years, with a significant increase expected in 2020. This is due to a variety of factors, including technological advancements, rising demands for efficient solutions, government assistance, and investment from the private sector. Healthcare, transportation, image processing, IoT automation, edtech and fintech have made particularly impressive advances in AI patent filing.
What are the challenges faced by the IP ecosystem in India?
Even though India’s IP ecosystem is improving, issues persist. One of the major issues is the patent office’s insufficient workforce. According to the EAC-PM report, the patent office in India employed only 860 people at the end of March 2022, including both examiners and controllers. China and the United States have 13704 and 8132 employees, respectively, in their offices.
Following the report released by the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade on November 2022, on a global basis, India is at fifth position in trademark filing India is now in fifth position in trademark filing and seventh in patents filed annually.
In 2016, India issued its first National IPR policy. Today, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade oversees the portfolios of Patents, Designs, Trademarks, Copyright, Geographical Indications, and Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout Design (DPIIT). The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management is tasked with implementing India’s National IPR Policy under DPIIT. It leads the Indian government’s efforts to streamline intellectual property processes, raise IP awareness, promote commercialization, and strengthen enforcement.
DPIIT, in collaboration with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, launched an IPR enforcement toolkit to assist police in dealing with IP crimes, particularly counterfeiting and piracy. In August 2017, the Maharashtra Cyber Digital Crime Unit was established as a public-private partnership to allow the industry to collaborate directly with state police to combat digital piracy. The Unit could serve as a model for digital enforcement for other Indian states to emulate and replicate.
The Innovation Cell of the Ministry of Education has also taken steps to foster innovation and promote IP literacy and awareness in classrooms across the country.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) was asked by The Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA), an association of 24 leading Indian pharmaceutical companies to remove India from its “priority watch list” because of various steps taken in recent years by the Indian government, judiciary, and other stakeholders to strengthen and modernise India’s intellectual property rights (IPR) ecosystem.
In a submission to USTR in February 2023, IPA cited the Indian Patent Office’s (IPO) decision in January 2023 to speedily dispose of pre-grant and post-grant objections as one of the most recent examples of the Indian government’s proactive approach.
How is India preparing for development in the IPR ecosystem?
According to the WIPO report 2022, India’s IP office surpassed Japan to become the fifth largest by the number of trademark filings in 2020, with 424,583 filings. Furthermore, in contrast with other nations, India underperforms in terms of patent examiners, resulting in fewer patents being granted in the country.
ISpA chairman Jayant Patil observed that clarity on intellectual property rights (IPR) is critical for the success of startups in the space sector. The ISpA is in the final stages of consultations and will provide a roadmap for the private sector to contribute to the transfer of technology, remote sensing, and satellite communication.
The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) recently extended the SIPP Scheme for three years and revised the Scheme for Facilitating Start-Ups Intellectual Property Protection (‘SIPP Scheme’ or ‘Scheme’).
The Scheme was created to help new businesses protect and promote their intellectual property rights (IPR), thereby encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation. The Scheme began as a pilot programme in January 2016 and ran until March 2020. The Scheme is now being extended for another three years, until March 31, 2023, via the above-mentioned notification.
India’s research and innovation journey has been noticeable in recent years, as the country has emerged as one of the world’s fastest-growing innovation-led economies. The Indian government has launched a number of initiatives in the field of intellectual property rights.
The country’s new innovative technologies have transformed it into the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has created beneficial systems to strengthen India’s IP Ecosystem. Some of the initiatives designed by the association include Capacity Building, International IPR Conference, and National IP Facilitation Centre.
The annual Index guides nations towards a brighter economic outlook through research, creativity, innovation, and market competitiveness after trying to analyse the broadening IP landscape in international markets.