Newer Forms of Intellectual Property Protection

Intellectual Property Protection has assumed enhanced importance in the domain of Technology Transfer in the current decade. It has served as a major incentive for encouraging scientific research, particularly applied research, on the one hand and as a protective cover for larger investment for commercialisation of R&D results. Its impact on trade was clearly felt in the multilateral negotiations under several United Nations bodies, such as UNCTAD and WIPO and more recently in the Uruguay round of Negotiations under GATT. With the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the importance and role of the intellectual property protection has been crystallised in the TRIPS (Trade -Related Intellectual Property Systems) agreement.

In India, Intellectual Property Protection has been in existence for well over a century. Patent protection can be traced as far back as 1856.Many laws governing the Intellectual Property has undergone some changes; rules made under them have also been revised from time to time. Broadly Indian Legislation covers Patents (Patent Act 1970), Design (Design Act 1911), Trademarks (Trade and Merchandise Mark Act 1956), and the Copyrights (Copying Act 1956). Copyright has been amended to include software in 1984, a new Trade Mark Bill has now been cleared and is awaiting assent of the President; and Patent Amendments Bill (1955) has been referred to a select committee of the Parliament. It is thus evident, that the Indian Intellectual Property system is receiving serious attention of the Government and the scenario in India is fast changing.

Several questions are being raised in many for a and many views are also emerging on issues relating to intellectual property. Still lot of misinformation is also circulating. The Waterfalls Institute of Technology Transfer, in its efforts in striving for excellence in the field of Intellectual Property desired to organise a Workshop. It was recognised that all major issues in this field cannot be covered by a single Workshop. While not exhaustive, it was clear that issues relating to Product Patents in Drugs, protection of Microorganisms, Plant Varieties, Software and Integrated Circuits would be prime candidates for such a Workshop. Product patents in India are not available for drugs under the Patent Act 1970, but it will be necessary in the context of TRIPS. Concern about Health and Medical Care can be traced to Drug Product Patents. With the advances in Biotechnology many newer forms of protection have been considered essential to stimulate research in this field. Patent protection for Microorganisms is essential, but thee appears to be several grey areas here. Similarly protection for new plant varieties is now necessary; it can be through patents, or a sui generis system, but it has to be effective . Software protection through copyrights has its limitations; some schools consider that patents can be an option. Similarly the protection to integrated circuits will have a tremendous impact on the growth of the Electronic Industry. At this stage it may also be recognised that IPR issues have also started figuring in the bilateral negotiations. Indo-US Scientific Initiatives has faced problems due to issues surrounding the extent of protection given to Intellectual Property Rights in India; similarly a final agreement on this issue could not be reached in the Vaccine Action Plan. Here arm twisting cannot be ruled out, but it is essential that those who negotiate such agreements should be well informed about the regions of real gains and regions of minor losses; alternatively minor gains and serious losses. Experience gained from multilateral negotiations often prove inadequate in such bilateral negotiations.

WITT found willing partners in the Centre for Technology Development, Bangalore and Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry to cosponsor a one-day Workshop on Newer Forms of Intellectual Property Protection. Thanks to the generous offer of the Director of APCTT this Workshop was held at the Conference Hall of the Asian Pacific Centre for Technology Transfer. Many eminent experts came forward to share their views and experiences on different aspects of Newer Forms of Intellectual Property Protection. As a whole the Workshop on 22nd March 95 became an important landmark in the public discussion on the new dimensions of the subject. WITT also received partial financial support from the Department of Electronics, Government of India to bring out the proceedings of the Workshop and this is deeply appreciated.

WITT is indebted to all the authors and those who participated and contributed to the Workshop. Special thanks are due to Ms Shruthi Kalra for her interest in listening to the recorded tapes and preparing texts for use in the proceedings. WITT is aware that this is the beginning of a long journey ahead in many developing countries of the world in realigning its policies and statutes: disputes and settlements of all types will emerge; research funding and comercialisation will have to bear some shocks before regaining normalcy; but it looks that the light at the end of the tunnel is real and journey ahead will lead to brighter pastures. WITT will be happy to receive comments, vies and suggestions from all readers, particularly those who could not be with us the Workshop.

May, 1995
Dr K V Swaminathan
Waterfalls Institute of Technology Transfer