Raghul Sudheesh, a close friend of the blog, brings us some very important perspective on the draft IP policy from some of India’s top IP scholars, Prof N.S. Gopalakrishnan and Dr T.G. Agitha, both from Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT). Prof N.S.Gopalakrishnan is internationally recognized as one of India’s foremost IPR experts, and has played a very influential role in policy making, international negotiations, and legislative drafting. They are very critical of the draft National IPR policy, pointing out several problematic issues with it. Raghul, whom I’d like to thank for bringing us this post, is an Associate Editor at Bar & Bench.
[Quick note: I’d like to state that in my brief coverage of the draft policy a few weeks ago, I made the mistake of being heavily influenced by the ‘introduction’ part of the draft policy, without paying closer attention to the text that followed, leading to me being, what I now feel in retrospect, unnecessarily laudatory of the draft policy. I apologize for jumping the gun with my analysis, or lack of it, earlier on.]
Academics submits critical comments to DIPP on draft National IPR Policy by IP Think Tank
By: Raghul Sudheesh
Two academics, Prof. NS Gopalakrishnan, Director and Dr. TG Agitha, Associate Professor at Inter University Centre for Intellectual Property Rights Studies (IUCIPRS), Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) has submitted their detailed comments about the draft National IPR policy prepared by the recently constituted IP Think Tank. Much of these comments are extremely critical about the draft National IPR Policy from an academic perspective. [View the whole text of the comments here].
According to Gopalakrishnan and Agitha, although the draft IP Policy aims at a balanced IP regime giving due emphasis to the socio-cultural needs of India’s population and its social, technological and industrial development; the objectives listed out in the draft IP policy do not meet these commitments. The current draft according to these two academics, contains many sentences which are unsubstantiated by scholarly research.
These academics argue that the draft IP Policy is built upon certain assumptions which require serious reconsideration.
One of the assumption is that, a strong IP legal framework will definitely promote creativity/innovation in India and will ensure the socio-cultural developments of India. According to the comments submitted by the academics,
“It is quite unfortunate that the draft policy did not bother to make any attempt at all to adduce any evidence to establish this, especially since this is a highly controversial statement. It did not consider it worth to examine the industrial and technological requirements of India while making such a sweeping statement.”
The second assumption is that India possess a sound creativity/innovation environment and it is the failure to monetize the results of creativity/innovation through IP that is the major challenge. This has also met with severe criticism and the comment note says,
“It is well established that there is no empirical evidence to show that a strong IP framework will foster creativity/innovation…..The failure of strong IP system in promoting creativity/innovation in developed countries led to the movements like “open source”, “creative commons” “open source innovation in drug” etc. Hence any measures suggested on the premise that a strong IP system will promote creativity/innovation are questionable.”
Thirdly, the draft IP Policy assumes that India has a “robust, effective and balanced” IP legislative framework to cater to her developmental goals. This is also criticized as a wrong assumption and the academicians cite the example of Green revolution which took place in India without any IP protection for the breeders of new varieties of seeds. Further, there is also no evidence to show that Indian industries used the existing IP laws to promote innovation or industrial growth.
The academics has suggested that the draft policy needs to be restructured seriously addressing the following aspects/issues:
- What is the current status of creativity/innovation in India?
- What is the contribution of existing IP law in promoting creativity/innovation in India?
- What are the gaps in the existing IP laws and the legal system in addressing the developmental needs of the nation?
They conclude with a note of caution that any attempt to draft an IP policy for India in a hurried manner without making proper studies on the impact of existing IP laws on the basic needs of the large sections of the Indian population will only help to give a wrong impression on India’s ability to carve out a balanced IP policy.
The main activity of the IPR centre is policy research and post graduate teaching and research. The Centre supports both Central and State Governments in formulating IPR policies befitting Indian social, political, technological and industrial developmental needs.
The IP Think Tank has been surrounded by controversy from the inception itself. The Think Tank, which was constituted a day after a Panel constituted earlier to draft the National IPR Policy submitted its draft. The inclusion of members with potential conflict of interest and no experience in IP led to criticism from IP experts and NGOs.
Prof NS Gopalakrishnan and Dr T.G.Agitha’s submission is available in full here: Comments on the National IPR Policy – IPR Think Tank (PDF)