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Govt to launch Rs 300-cr awareness programme on IPR

March 31, 2008 11:28 IST
The government plans to revamp the existing intellectual property implementation mechanism to address concerns of international players in the pharma, and food and information technology industries.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the nodal department that handles intellectual property rights (IPR) related matters under the commerce ministry, is launching an ambitious Rs 300-crore (Rs 3 billion) project to sensitise all stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies, scientists, companies, ministries and the general public on IPR issues.

The department also plans to set up a state-of-the-art trademark registry office in Ahmedabad and enhance infrastructure capacities of the existing trademark office in New Delhi.

It is also planning to set up a National Institute for Intellectual Property Management at Nagpur. These steps come soon after the patent office modernisation programme that cost Rs 149 crore (Rs 1.49 billion).

The project is in response to demands that India raises the level of intellectual property protection available in the country to multinational players. "We have all IPR related legislations in place. All of them are in tune with the TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement of World Trade Organisation. Effective implementation of these rules is the next step," a senior commerce ministry official said.

Ruling out any external pressure, the official said that multinational corporations are not the only ones interested in a stronger IPR.  "IPR protection is needed for our country. For instance, Bollywood, one of the fastest growing film industries in the world, still complains about the IPR provisions for cinematograph films. Currently, the term of protection for such films and sound recordings is 60 years, whereas for literary, musical and artistic works, it is life term of the author plus 60 years. We need to address such problems and sensitise law enforcers about the provisions in the Copy Rights Act and other IP laws," the official added.

On March 13, DIPP organised a meeting of all concerned ministries and departments that handle IP to facilitate better coordination and understanding on IP issues for improved compliance.

According to sources, DIPP wanted an update on all current and emerging issues in IP from ministries like education, health, information and broadcasting, chemicals and petrochemicals and agriculture. Among the current issues that were discussed by these ministries were optical disc legislation (an initiative by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting), copyright on internet (a matter pending with the department of higher education) and the protection of traditional knowledge.

Even though DIPP does not consider the issue of secrecy of clinical trial data as an IP problem, "data protection" was also discussed in the meeting. "Data protection issues were discussed in the meeting as it is often linked to IP.  A high-level committee headed by former chemical secretary had looked into the matter and gave its recommendations for data protection clauses in pharmaceutical and agrochemicals. We have been discussing these issues to facilitate exchange of views," sources said.

The issue of "data protection" has been a matter of serious concern for multinational pharmaceutical companies for a long time.

Joe C Mathew in New Delhi