In the present technological world protecting intellectual property has become one of the most important business strategies. Intellectual property law is nationalistic in nature and there is no one international statute which will apply to all countries. In this environment, it gets imperative to get intellectual property protection in the major economies of the world. In today’s globalised world, intellectual property registered in one country can be infringed in another country. This leaves limited legal remedy if the infringed intellectual property is not registered in that country. Thus, it is important to register intellectual property assets in the world’s major economies and where there is a threat of infringement.
India’s Promising Economic Future
On 6 December 2022 Indians woke up to the good news of growth in the country’s GDP. The World Bank has forecasted India’s GDP growth to 6.9% for the financial year 2022-23 and revised it from the previous 6.5%. According to World Bank senior economist Dhruv Sharma is because of India’s robust economic activities. This makes India one of the lucrative destinations to register intellectual property assets. India’s economic growth story has become the talk of not the town but the entire world. The news of India’s growth potential and intellectual property standing has come as a pleasant surprise considering the growth starved world economy reeling under COVID-19’s impact. On 31 October 2022, Morgan Stanley, the leader of investment banking, released its research blue paper titled ‘Why this is India’s Decade’ which reposes great hope in India’s economic strength. Along with this there was the good news that India has improved its ranking in patent filing. These factors go on to show that the innovation and growth trajectory of India is looking positive. India is currently being counted among the economies which will dictate the growth of the world economy. The Morgan Stanley research blue paper posits India as one of the fastest growing economies of the world. One which will leave behind giants like Germany and Japan by 2027 and have the largest stock market by 2030. India is being seen as the county which will be offering the best growth opportunities in Asia in the coming decade. The reasons that the blue paper lays down for a hopeful future of the Indian economy are echoed by other experts as well. [i]
One of the biggest reasons for India’s strong economic growth is touted to be its young workforce which is increasingly being viewed as a global workforce. Multinational companies have been outsourcing their work to Indians since the early 2000s. The reason for doing that was the boom of the internet age. Now with COVID-19 the world is a different place to work in. With companies becoming comfortable with work from home options, the work is again being increasingly outsourced to India because of its qualified and young workforce. The Morgan Stanley paper states that in the next decade the number of people in India employed in jobs outside its territory is going to double and reach 11 million. Indians are not only relying on outsourced jobs but are creating jobs for themselves in the country. A large part of India’s young workforce is entering the entrepreneurship world with the highest number of start-ups being launched in India.[ii]
Investment and Manufacturing Opportunities
Indian government is putting in concerted efforts to attract investments in the country. It has launched an initiative called Invest India which helps investors who are looking for opportunities in India. The government has introduced tax cuts and spent on infrastructure to make India an investor friendly country. The Indian government is also helping future investors by providing them with land for opening their business in India. The Morgan Stanley paper states that India is on its trajectory to become the factory of the world with investor spirits high on opportunities for investing and manufacturing in India.[iii] Apart from attracting foreign investments, Indian government itself is investing in research and development to increase the economic position of India. With its immense workforce India is also being seen as the manufacturing hub of the world. It is catering to the increasing global demand of products. These factors are pumping the Indian economy.
Another reason for India’s increased growth potential is the government’s initative of a digital economy. The road to a digital economy was laid by launch of the national identification number called AADHAR. This helps in establishing identity and secures the process of digital transactions. Recently the Reserve Bank of India has announced the launch of the Central Bank Digital Currency called e-rupee. In a world which has been racked by the uncertainty of the crypto market with news of bankruptcy of the crypto giant FTX, a government regulated digital currency is pioneering. Along with the strengthening of the digital economy, the Indian consumer’s spending power is also increasing. The Morgan Stanley paper states that the Indian consumer’s disposable income will increase doubling the consumption from $2 trillion currently to $4.9 trillion by the end of the decade.[iv]
Increased Energy Consumption
India’s energy consumption is on the rise with government’s effort to upgrade 600,000 plus villages to have electricity. This increased energy consumption has led the government to tap into the immense strength of renewable energy in India. With India looking to fulfil its energy needs through fossil fuels its reliance on imported energy will decrease. This will lead to bettering the living conditions of the citizens of a country which will leave behind China in coming years in population growth. According to Morgan Stanley analysts increased energy consumption will boost investment. Opening a cycle of investment increasing jobs, more jobs mean more income, which means more savings and ultimately means more investment.[v]
India’s strong growth trajectory makes it one of the best places to get intellectual property registered. It is not wrong to say that intellectual property and innovation go hand in hand in every country. India’s economic growth and its growing efficiency in intellectual property filing complement each other. It is worth discussing the reforms in India with respect to protection and enforcement of intellectual property.
Intellectual Property Filing in India
After implementing the National IPR policy in 2016 there have been many positive developments in the intellectual property landscape of India. With the national policy’s implementation, intellectual property rights like patents, trademarks, copyright, design, geographical indication and semiconductor integrated circuit layout design fell under the responsibility of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). DPIIT and the Cell for IPR promotion and management are the premiere organisations which are tasked with the Indian government’s initiative to increase IP awareness, streamline IP filing, and increase the efficiency of enforcement of intellectual property.[vi]
There have been positive developments in intellectual property law throughout the years. In 2016 the amendment to Patent Rules lead to reform in the working of the Patent Office. In 2017 these rules were again amended to provide definition of a start-up. Amendments to Patent Rules took place again in 2019. The purpose of these amendments was to provide the facility of Expediated registrations to certain entities like start-ups, natural persons, small entities, departments of Government of India. In 2021 the Patent Rules were again amended to bolster innovation. Under this amendment, fee concessions were provided for filing of patents to educational institutions including foreign universities. The Patent Office has also improved its functioning to facilitate patent filing. Certain notable improvements include publication of First Examination Reports, delivery of certificate of grant of patent to applicant’s email, feedback mechanism about the working of the Patent Office have been implemented and video conferencing facilities were enabled which helped applicants to attend hearings from their own office. The system of grant and management of trademark has been simplified. Online search facility for trademarks has gone through improvement to improve the search system. Like patent certificates, certificates for grant of trademark are also sent to the applicant’s email id and get automatically uploaded on the electronic register of Trademark Registry. For fast processing of applications, the process of renewal of trademark has been automated. Benefits have been given to start-ups with amendments in Trademark and Patent Rules. 80% fee concession has been provided for patent application filed by start-ups and 50% concession for trademark applications. In addition to this the government has launched the ‘The Scheme for Facilitating Start-ups Intellectual Property Protection’ (SIPP). This scheme is aimed to providing facilitators to start-ups who help them in filing their intellectual property rights. The system for registering designs has also got an online uplift with E-filing facility enabled for design applications. This has brought down the pendency of applications to one month from the filing date. Even for copyright registration applications the pendency period is kept at one month which is mandatory so that objections to the application can be invited. To bolster transparency, the Copyright office has started to display applications and their status on the office website. The filing of documents for registration of literary, dramatic, and artistic work has been eased with the setting up of online uploading facilities. In 2021 major amendments took place in Copyright Rules. Provisions were introduced to regulate the working of copyright societies in India, requirements for registration of computer programmes were eased and the working of the copyright office was made technology friendly.[vii]
Reforms in Management of Indian Intellectual Property Office
The intellectual property filing system in India has been reformed not only through the legislative process but also through improvements in the working of the Indian IPO. Efforts have been made to upgrade IT infrastructure at the IPO. Arrangement made during COVID pandemic to upgrade the infrastructure to allow employees to work from homes and carry out their duties without interruption have been made permanent. To further the use of technology, E-filing has been introduced to register intellectual property protection. The official Indian IPO website has been revamped to facilitate the dissemination of information related to intellectual property updates and filing process. Initiative have been taken to engage stakeholders through meetings and feedback mechanism to make them active partners in the growth story of India. Awareness campaigns about intellectual property rights have been carried out by DPIIT in collaboration with the Ministry of Education’s Innovation Cell and industry associations like FICCI, ASSOCHAM etc.[viii]
The WIPO-INDIA cooperation agreement has made the Indian Patent Office an accessing and depositing office for WIPO Centralised Access to Search and Examination System (WIPO CASE) and WIPO Digital Access Service (DAS). This helps patent applicants to submit certified copies of priority documents through a secure and inexpensive procedure. Agreement have been signed with other IPOs to strengthen bilateral relations. The DPIIT and the office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs, Trademarks and Geographical Indications (CGPDTM) have signed agreements with the Japanese IPO, Swedish Patent Office and the UKIPO. With the Union Cabinet approving accession to the WIPO Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performers and Phonograms Treaty the copyright protection in India will be extended to the digital environment. Union Cabinet has also cleared accession to the Nice, Vienna and Locarno Agreement. This will help the Indian IPO to harmonize the classification of trademarks and designs with global classifications. [ix]
Better Enforcement Mechanism
Positive developments have also been undertaken in the enforcement mechanism of intellectual property rights. Steps have been taken by the DPIIT to tackle counterfeiting of products. They have in collaboration with FICCI released an IPR enforcement toolkit to help police to deal with intellectual property crimes. In 2017 a unique task force was incorporated in Maharashtra called the Maharashtra Cyber Digital Crime Unit. This unit works as public-private partnership which allows stakeholders to work with police to prevent digital piracy. A big change has been brought in the judicial enforcement mechanism of intellectual property rights. With the passing of the Tribunal Reforms Act 2021 the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) has been abolished with its cases transferred to High Courts. The Delhi High Court has become the first High Court in the country to have a dedicated Intellectual Property Division (IPD) consisting of three judges hearing IP matters regularly. The High Courts of Bombay, Chennai and Calcutta are in the process of establishing the IPD on the lines of Delhi High Court.[x]
Disadvantages of Not Filing Intellectual Property In India
Keeping in mind the growth potential of India there emerge circumstances that if an owner does not file their intellectual property assets in India they will be at a disadvantage. This disadvantage will not only be losing out on profits but also putting one’s intellectual property rights at a risk of being violated. Without the filing of intellectual property, it becomes easy to manufacture and sell the pirated products in the Indian market. Owners also lose out on the opportunities to commercially exploit their intellectual property for example through licensing if the IP assets is not filed at an appropriate time in India. Start-ups and MSMEs will rarely find another jurisdiction where they are being given so many concessions and help from the government to build their business. Thus, for them not filing intellectual property in India can be a bad business decision as they will open themselves to risk of losses. The Indian intellectual property filing landscape does not discriminate between intellectual property rights. Indigenous developed technologies get far greater protection here than in any other country. Thus manufactures of indigenous developed technologies will be at a risk of loses and intellectual property theft if they do not register their IP assets in India.
Conclusion: Thus, keeping in mind, the future economic growth, India is becoming a lucrative investment spot. Making it one of the best destinations to get intellectual property interests registered. The intellectual property landscape of India has also been reformed to attract businesses and individuals to register their intellectual property in India. This article is a call to businesses worldwide to file intellectual property in India and become part of its growth story.
- Morgan Stanley, https://www.morganstanley.com/ideas/investment-opportunities-in-india (last visited on Dec 6, 2022).
- International Trade Administration USA, https://www.trade.gov/country-commercial-guides/india-protecting-intellectual-property (last visited on Dec 6, 2022).
- Annual Report 2019-20 Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks and Geographical Indications.
- Supra note vi
Disclaimer: The present article intends to provide general guidance on the subject, and you can also consult us in your specific case.