Earlier this month, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) announced that it had signed a deal with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to establish Technology and Innovation Support Centres (TISC) in India. According to the press release put out by the DIPP, the TISCs are meant to provide innovators in developing countries with high quality technology, information and related services to help them create, protect and manage their intellectual property. As per the same press release, once established the TISCs will provide the following services:
- Access to online patent and non-patent (scientific and technical) resources and IP-related publications;
- Assistance in searching and retrieving technology information;
- Training in database search;
- On-demand searches (novelty, state-of-the-art and infringement);
- Monitoring technology and competitors;
- Basic information on industrial property laws, management and strategy, and technology commercialization and marketing
As per WIPO’s website, TISCs were aimed at fulfilling Recommendation No. 8 of the Development Agenda which calls on WIPO to “[facilitate] the national offices of developing countries, especially LDCs, as well as their regional and sub-regional intellectual property organizations to access specialized databases…”. Going by a report published by WIPO, these TISCs have been set up primarily in Africa, with a few established in South America and a small sprinkling in Europe and Asia.
What I cannot understand is why the DIPP is signing deals with WIPO to establish these centres when it has access to resources like the National Institute of Intellectual Property Management (NIIPM) and the combined intellectual faculties of all of India’s IP law firms.
The main objectives of the NIIPM in its own words are as follows: “The main objectives of this institute is to cater to the need of training of Examiners of Patents, Designs, Trademarks and Geographical Indications, IP professionals, IP managers, imparting basic education to user communities, government functionaries and stake holders involved in creation, commercialization and management of intellectual property rights, facilitate research on IP related issues including preparation of study reports and policy analysis of relevance to Government.” This is precisely the function that has now been handed over to TISCs that will be established with WIPO. Is the DIPP now admitting that NIIPM which functions under the Ministry of Commerce has failed in its mission?
Apart from NIIPM, India has a mix of long established and younger patent law firms that provide almost identical services as the proposed TISCs. India’s older patent law firm, DePenning & DePenning was established in 1856. The simple point that I am trying to make is that India has a significant domestic capability to provide services and training required to protect IP generated by Indian inventors.
By allowing WIPO to establish TISCs and charge for the same, the DIPP is simply diverting business away from Indian law firms. At a time when the Modi government is beating the drum of ‘Make in India’, why is the DIPP ignoring domestic capability and striking deals with WIPO?