Call for empanelment of facilitators- Scheme for Facilitating Start Ups Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP)



Earlier this year, the Government of India had come out with an Action Plan for its flagship ‘Start-Up India’ initiative. The initiative is aimed at building “a strong ecosystem for nurturing innovation and Startups in the country that will drive sustainable economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities.” Under the Action Plan, a number of key ‘Action Points’ are provided for, which are aimed at realising the objective of the initiative. Among these, Action Point 4 provides for ‘Legal support and fast-tracking patent examination at lower costs’. The thrust of this Action Point is to create awareness of the utility of IPRs among startups and encourage them to commercialise and protect their IPRs. Thus, IPRs are identified as a key business tool under the Plan, which can boost the industrial competitiveness of a startup. As part of Action Point 4, the Government has given form to the ‘Scheme for Facilitating Startups Intellectual Property Protection’ (“SIPP”) (earlier, Ritvik had made a mention of this scheme in his budget post here).

The Scheme

The Scheme is aimed at creating a panel of IPR facilitators, who will provide the startups with a range of services related to the protection and commercialisation of their IPRs. The empanelment of facilitators is done by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (“CGPDTM”) and the facilitators will provide the startups with the following services- general advisory on different IPRs issues, information on protecting and promoting IPRs in other countries, assistance in filing and disposal of the IP applications related to patents, designs and trademarks, drafting specifications for inventions of startups, drafting of complete/ provisional specification for inventions of startups, preparing and filing responses to examination reports sent by the IP office, contesting oppositions, appearing on behalf of startups at hearings, ensuring final disposal of application, among others. The services related to providing general advisory and information on IPRs are to be done on a pro-bono basis by the facilitators. As regards the filing of designs, patents and trademarks is concerned, the facilitators shall be entitled to a fee provided for under the Scheme. Nevertheless, startups will not have to pay the facilitator and these costs shall be borne by the central government, irrespective of the number of filings carried out.

Eligibility criteria for startups and facilitators

For a startup to be eligible under the scheme, the entity must have been incorporated or registered in India within the last 5 years and should not have a turn-over of more than Rs.25 crores during the last financial year. Furthermore, it should be certified by the ‘Start-Up Certification Board’ as having an innovative business. As far as the eligibility conditions for the facilitators are concerned, they must fall under one of the following categories: 1) a patent agent registered with CGPDTM, 2) a trademark agent registered with CGPDTM 3) an Advocate who is actively involved in the filing and disposal of applications for patents, trademark and design or 4) a government organisation like TIFAC, NRDC, BIRAC, DeiTY, DSIR etc.


The CGPDTM has come out with the first list of patents/ designs and trademark facilitators who have been found eligible to be empanelled. It is heartening to note that many top law firms have also signed up for the scheme. Another call for applications for empanelment is now open owing to high demand and the last date for it is 10th July.

The scheme is initially being run on a pilot basis for one year. It is also worthwhile to note that the scheme explicitly provides that the ownership of IP acquired through the facilitation process under the scheme shall completely vest with the start-up.

The government certainly needs a round of applause for this novel and forward looking initiative. Nevertheless, a few tweaks could make the scheme even better. For instance, while the advisory services are to be rendered pro-bono, the facilitators shall receive a fee in case an application for patent/ design/ trademark is filed. Even if the application is abandoned or withdrawn before disposal of application, the facilitator shall be paid the fee for filing of application. Thus, one wonders if the facilitator will not be encouraged to somehow file the application despite fully well knowing that the application does not stand a chance of getting approved. The scheme does not provide for any mechanism to check the filing of applications, which are frivolous. Thus, a provision needs to be incorporated, which mandates the need to record in writing the reason for advising on prosecuting in the first place.

All said, SpicyIP wholeheartedly welcomes this wonderful initiative and wishes it all the success!

(Image taken from here).



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