As the title explains quite succinctly, I write to bring to your notice India’s opening statement at the 56th Session of the Assemblies of Member States of WIPO. You can find the statement here.
Prior to discussing the various elements of the statement, let me direct you to the 20th Paragraph.
The statement brings to attention the fact that India was the first to ratify the Marrakesh treaty.
I would like to pause at this point and talk about India and it’s relation to Marrakesh.
India and the Marrakesh Treaty
But first, what is the Marrakesh treaty?
Also referred to as the “Books for Blind” treaty, the treaty seeks to increase access of material that is specifically designed for the visually impaired, by making it mandatory for libraries of signatories to provide for accessible (braille, audio, large print material, etc.) books on demand. It essentially overrides copyright restrictions for such material.
As of now, 22 countries have ratified it.
Now that I have provided a brief explanation, let us discuss India’s actions.
Recently, through an article in the Hindu, Mr. Francis Gurry (Dir. Gen. of WIPO) praised India’s efforts in effectively implementing the treaty, in order to engender an inclusive society.
He refers to two initiatives:
i. The “Sugamya Pustakalaya”: An Online Library of Accessible Books.
ii. The “Multi-Stakeholder Approach”:
Government collaboration with private local bodies for ensuring better implementation of the treaty.
In fact, he goes as far as to recommend India as a model to emulate for other countries.
Other Aspects of the Statement
Now, I shall get back to the statement and touch upon the other aspects:
“5. A resilient and dynamic Intellectual Property Ecosystem is a sine qua non for building a robust knowledge economy. An IP system should promote innovation, protect IP Rights and safeguard the larger interests of the society.”
While on the face of it the afore mentioned paragraph seems to be rather standard, a little more thought would show that India’s theoretical stance on IP seems to be based in the belief that an IP regime is there to boost innovation and not for protecting the “natural right” of creators or inventors.
Prashant has brought this dichotomy out succinctly over here, though in a different context.
“8. The first step, a giant leap if I might say so in the implementation of the policy, has been the manifold increase in the human resources at the Indian Intellectual Property Offices. 458 Patent Examiners have been hired from 14 disciplines through a rigorous recruitment process that involved a whopping 82,000 candidates, all engineers and scientists. 100 Trademark Examiners have also been recruited on contract.
- This increase in workforce is expected to bring down pendency, and the early results have been very encouraging. The time for first examination of Trademark applications has already come down from 13 months to 5 and a half months, and will come down further to just 1 month by March 2017.”
After pointing out in the above paragraphs the increase in the workforce and the resultant decrease in pendency of Trade Mark applications, it goes on to briefly discusses the following:
i. India’s 15 place jump in the Global Innovation Index. (Overall Rank 63)
ii. Increased Patent Filings. A 35% increase from last year.
iii. Indian Patent Office being the cheapest provider of reports at $150.
iv. Moots the idea of an External Office of WIPO in India.
Next, it highlights the creation of a Traditional Knowledge Digital Library and calls for its protection through a legal instrument in consultation with the International Growth Centre (IGC):
“15. The creation of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) has been a significant achievement for India, a country with a vast pool of traditional knowledge. India has been able to partially prevent attempts to misappropriate its traditional knowledge with the help of this digital library, particularly with those countries that have included TKDL in their search. We look forward to working closely with WIPO to make this first-of-its-kind digital library a part of PCT minimum documentation.
- India welcomes the incremental progress made in the work of IGC and look forward to an early finalization of an International legal instrument for effective protection of Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expressions and Genetic Resources. India would like disclosure, prior informed consent and equitable access and benefit sharing based on mutually agreed terms to be included in the international instrument/instruments. From India’s perspective it is important to find adequate ways to protect freely available traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions which may subsists in codified and non-codified forms.”
PCT Minimum Documentation:
The minimum number of documents that an examiner needs to look into for ascertaining “prior art”, while deciding upon the patentability of the invention.
Only certain types of documents are allowed for this in the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
India is suggesting that the TKDL also be included in the allowed documents.
More information can be found here.
Prior to concluding, the statement reiterated India’s stance with regards to the Design Law Treaty and the protection of broadcasting organizations:
“17. India expects an early finalisation of the text of the Design Law Treaty. We support the incorporation of “technical assistance” as an article in the DLT.
- India reiterates its support for a treaty on protection of broadcasting organisations based on ‘the signal based approach in traditional sense’ consistent with the mandate of 2007 General Assembly. However, the issue of ‘rights based approach’ to protect broadcasting organizations and also inclusion of any elements of webcasting and simulcasting needs further discussion and exchange of ideas.”
In this context, the statement is referring to a provision that most developing countries want included in the Design Law Treaty. Look here and here is a more detailed discussion.
“Signal Based Approach” and the “Rights Based Approach”:
You can find a discussion concerning the same here.
Lastly, thanks to Thiru Balasubramaniam (keionline.org) for bringing the statement to our notice.
Image from here.