Kerala’s “Mission IPR” nipped in the bud?


The Kerala IP Policy that has been subject to a fair share of controversy has now hit a road block from a wing of the Government itself.

The Supervisory Council on Intellectual Property (SCIP) which was the planned administrative mechanism in “Mission IPR” has been shot down by the Finance Department which has refused to appoint technical staff, on grounds that the staff from other wings of the Law Department could be relocated for this process instead.

What is Mission IPR?

The much talked about and the hotly debated IP Policy to be implemented by the State of Kerala is collectively referred to as Mission IPR. The IPR Policy hopes to serve as a mechanism for governing the entire spectrum of Intellectual Property Rights administration in the State. The IPR policy as envisaged recommends the constitution of the a separate autonomous body in the State for IP Administration under the wing of the Law Department, regulating “traditional knowledge”, and the establishment of the Kerala Traditional Knowledge Authority. Another major and innovative proposal is the setting up of an IPR academy.

Who are the various members of the SCIP and what were its proposed functions?

The directive of the Supervisory Council on Intellectual Property to check violation of knowledge users’ rights, provide a conduit for patent applications from state-supported research institutions, help inventors prepare patent applications, support patentable research work and disseminate knowledge about IPR. The Council to be chaired by the Chief Minister and have the Law Minister as second in command, was initially supposed to have experts, technical staff apart from the ministerial members of the Council (including Health, Industries, Water Resources and Agriculture).

Relevant mandates of the Policy (information received through RTI Application discussed below) include the encouragement of more inventions/innovations, establishing a “Kerala IP Academy” for generating a cadre of competent IPR professionals, coordinating with various agencies of Kerala Government to assist them in all agreements relating to intellectual property, creation of a database for traditional knowledge especially Ayurveda Manuscripts to prevent misappropriation of knowledge already in the public domain, and conferring reasonable assistance and information to Public in the filing of IP.

Envisaged as the first step or the base of the formulated IP Policy, this hurdle in the constitution of the SCIP has created already raised several eyebrows in the initial stage of the policy implementation.

What objections have been raised in the constitution of the SCIP?

Despite the constitution of the SCIP already being made public, the Finance Department through their Principal Secretary issued a note a September 23rd of 2008, stating that the request for the setting up of a separate IPR administration (the SCIP) was rejected. This note was made available to the public after the filing of an RTI Application by a concerned citizen to gauge the following details:

“a) Reasons for excluding Scientists and other Experts from SCIP in contravention to its constitutional aspects mentioned in para 14 of Kerala IPR Policy

b) Reasons for deferring the setting up of “appropriate technical staff” of SCIP (which is vital for the functioning of SCIP)

c) Reasons for deferring the constitution of sub-committees, specialized groups and Kerala Traditional Knowledge Authority (KTKA)”

The Principal Secretary suggested that instead of the establishment such a council under the Law Department, the deployment of existing temporary staff from various wings and cells in the Law Department where the workload was not heavy would be a more prudent approach.

Interestingly, weekly Malayalam journal Mangalam reports that the Law Department had requested one Special Secretary, one Deputy Secretary, One Section Officer, Three legal assistants, one typist, one peon, one Scientist and Five Scientific Officer/Assistant- none of which were sanctioned by the Finance Department.

Reactions

After this refusal was made public, reactions have been strong from all quarters who old some interest in this undertaking.

Government: In response to this surprising move, The Hindu reports that several officials believe that “the number of staff manning the various sections in the Law Department was inadequate even to handle the present volume of work.” More importantly, it is necessary to examine the impact of this note on the setting up of the IP Policy itself.

Despite the policy being strongly debated on several fronts, as we have stated previously, the policy cannot be faulted for setting themselves very difficult goals, high standards and thinking out of the box. In setting themselves such targets, this note of the Finance Department would defeat the very objective that Mission IPR has set for itself- to ensure the protection of various IP rights through the functioning of an efficient administrative mechanism. This has been echoed by the Chief Minister of Kerala in a note to the Law Department.

Inventors: Inventors- with patents or those awaiting patents, have all spoken out strongly against this disappointing end / start to the administrative mechanism of the Kerala IP Policy.

SpicyIP Reacts

We have had several posts that revolve around the correctness, constitutionality as well as the viability of the Kerala IPR Policy. However, this blogger firmly believes that in case this ambitious project is to be carried out doing so without a proper administrative setup is impossible. The mandate of Mission IPR (discussed above) make it amply clear that a certain level of IP domain expertise is required. In nipping this project in the bud, the Kerala Government may have created more hurdles in the implementation of an already much debated policy.

(SpicyIP would like to thank Mr. Praveen Raj, for directing us to important information as regards the contents of this post).

One comment.

  1. AvatarR S PRAVEEN RAJ

    The person obtained the information under RTI forwarded me all those documents. It is imperative whether Law Department of Kerala can perform all these functions entrusted on it (listed below) without highly qualified technical staff (Say a Minimum of 20 – 25 Phd in Science/Masters in Engineering)

    Mandates of the proposed “Mission IPR” and Law (IPR Administration) Department of Govt. of Kerala (as per the Information Received under RTI Act)are the following

    1) Encourage more inventions/innovations from the State of Kerala

    2)Facilitate timely protection and disclosure of the Intellectual Property generated from the State.

    3)Ensure Benefit sharing with the Creators of the Intellectual Property.

    4) To promote conservation of biological and agricultural diversity as well as Traditional Knowledge of Kerala by leveraging the relevant legislations enacted by Central Government/State Government.

    5)Creating awareness among the various cross sections of the people of the State about the various issues concerning IP.

    6) Co-coordinating with Ministry of Education and Universities in Kerala to ensure that IPR is included as a compulsory paper in all Graduate/Post Graduate/Diploma Courses.

    7)Taking measures to prevent abuses / misuses of the IP rights secured and to provide all the necessary help to the IP Holders in prosecuting IPR Litigations.

    8)Enabling quick commercialisation of innovations so as to benefit both the inventors /creators and the society

    9)Establishing a “Kerala IP Academy” for generating a cadre of competent IPR professionals to cater the needs of the State/Country for handling multidisciplinary IP related matters.

    10) Co-coordinating with various agencies of Kerala Government to assist them in negotiating and preparing license and other agreements; reviewing and approving all agreements relating to intellectual property.

    11)Establishing a database for traditional knowledge especially Ayurveda Manuscripts of the State in a digitized format with the main objective of preventing misappropriation of such knowledge, which is already in the public domain.

    12) Providing training to all associated internal/external entities of the Kerala Government to familiarise them with IPR administration measures to be followed.

    13)Conferring reasonable assistance and information to Public in the filing of Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks, and other IP.

    14) Field watch for national and international patents in-force where potential threat of misappropriation of traditional knowledge of Kerala is involved.

    15) Verifyng that prior informed consent for access to and use of traditional knowledge has been obtained from the TK Holders before it is documented.

    16) Maintaining a Central database of all IPR documents

    17) Creating and UP keeping an IPR Information System and Library.

    18) Promoting more Geographical Indications (GI) from the State.

    19) Organizing Periodical & regular training programmes/ Seminar/ Symposia/ Conferences to equip and educate administrators, educators, judges, business people and enforcement authorities on various IPR Laws and the issues involved

    20) Organizing appropriate training programmes which would provide the State Police personnel the knowledge of the recent developments in IP to enable them to take appropriate action at the right time for the enforcement of the IPRs

    21) Establishing mechanisms for recognising and rewarding innovators and creators who have contributed substantially for the scientific & industrial development of the State by stimulating and protection of the IP generated

    22) Maintaining the statistics on the Intellectual Property for the State of Kerala.

    23) Publications of the Activities of the Law (IPR Administration) Department.

    Reply

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