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National IPR Policy Series: Quick Observations on the Leaked Draft of the National IPR Policy

Earlier this week, the “Don’t Trade Our Lives Away” blog leaked the supposed final draft of India’s National IPR Policy (“leaked draft”). This article presents quick comments on this leaked draft.


The leaked draft (which is not final) is available here. The only official document that the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (“DIPP”) has released so far is the First Draft of the National IPR Policy (“First Draft”).

CIS has tracked these developments since the beginning. We have submitted preliminary comments, critical comments to the First Draft, sent multiple requests under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (“RTI requests”) to the DIPP and published their responses, discussed the IPR Think Tank as a public authority under the RTI Act,  analysed the process compared to recommendations by the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”), compared the First Draft to an earlier National IPR Strategy[N1] , written a letter to the Think Tank and have now begun to track the work being done by the Sectoral Innovation Council on IPR, also established under the DIPP. At the time of writing this post, we have been unable to locate comments to the First Draft made available by the DIPP.

Since the release of the First Draft in December, 2014, this leaked document has been the first look at an updated IPR Policy for India. Not much seems to have changed since December, 2014 and this new leaked draft (which is dated April, 2015), barring the inclusion of some Special Focus Areas.

Perhaps one of the strongest criticisms of the First Draft had been that it supposed a nexus between IP and innovation, and various stakeholders had been quick to point this out as problematic, and fallacious. Unfortunately, since the language of the new draft has barely changed (I have managed to count only two-three additions), this remains the underlying issue in the new draft as well.

What continues to be worrying in both drafts is sweeping references of benefits of IP to India’s socio-economic development. What constitutes this development and how IPR, and specifically the IPR Policy will achieve it is anyone’s guess, given that there are no references to studies undertaken to assess how IPR contributes to socio-economic development, specifically in India.

Here are some other quick comments:

    1. In the first objective on IP Awareness and Promotion, the new draft includes an additional recommended step – that of engaging with the media to ‘sensitize them on IP issues’ (sic.). Given that this is under a broader objective of encouraging IP promotion, I am inclined to believe that this could be interpreted as telling the media to print positive things about intellectual property and refrain from criticizing intellectual property (that seems to be the theme of this entire document!). What does it mean to ‘sensitize’ the media about intellectual property?
    2. In the second objective, on IP creation, the leaked draft contains a recommendation to conduct a study to assess the contribution of various IP based industries to the economy – including employment, exports and technology transfer. No other details have been provided in the draft.
    3. Also in the second objective, the new draft makes a mention of improving the IP output of universities, national laboratories etc. The new draft proposes to encourage and facilitate the acquisition of intellectual property rights by these labs and institutions, whereas the earlier draft recommended the protection of IPRs created by them.
    4. In the covering letter to the leaked draft, Justice Sridevan states that the final draft includes a discussion on key focus areas – creative industries, biotechnology, ICT, energy, agriculture, health, geographical indications (“GIs”) and traditional knowledge (“TK”). These have been discussed at the end of the new draft.
    5. Limitations and exceptions remain confined to an area of future study/research for future policy development. The ‘Creative Industries’ section of the leaked draft makes a mention of the significance of limitations and exceptions to safeguard access to knowledge and information; and the need to balance user rights and property rights. One would have liked to see this discussed more substantively in the policy and not confined only to a paragraph in the section on ‘Creative Industries’.
    6. In a welcome move, the policy draft (new) seeks to promote the adoption of free and open standards and free and open software in the ‘Information and Communication Technology and Electronics’ section.

    With the DIPP Secretary’s latest update that the new policy draft will be released in about a month’s time, one will have to wait and see what the final draft looks like.