Cholamandal IP Counsel Mr. P. Sanjai Gandhi delivered a presentation on “Tamil Nadu as a R & D Hub – The Way Forward” in GLOBAL INVESTORS MEET 2019 held on 23rd and 24th January, 2019.
As per Mr. P. Sanjai Gandhi, India ranks third among the most attractive investment destinations for technology transactions in the world. India is among the topmost countries in the world in the field of scientific research. We are now working hard towards establishing ourself as a leader in industrialisation and technological development. Towards achieving this the Govt. of India has brought out the National IP Policy of India, 2016. This Policy recognises the abundance of creative and innovative energies that flow in India, and the need to tap into and channelize these energies towards a better and brighter future for all. The National IP Policy is a vision document that encompasses and brings to a single platform all IP. It views IP holistically, and aims to create a synergy between all forms of intellectual property (IP), concerned statutes and agencies. This policy sets in place an institutional mechanism for implementation, monitoring and review. It aims to incorporate and adapt global best practices to the Indian scenario.
Innovation in software products can be protected as intellectual property, usually either through the use of copyrights or patents. IP rights are made stronger by creating awareness among the inventors, improving the administration of India & current framework and authorities. The country granted 55% more patents in 2016-17 with respect to 2015-16 with a total of 2003 patents. Today India follows a universally acceptable system in the patent grant process. Once a patent is sealed the protection is for a limited period of 20 years. And as you all know the person to whom the patent is granted has an exclusive right over the product. On expiry of this period the patent goes into the public domain. As per a report published by the India Patent office for the year 2016-17 it is seen that. IIT (Collective), WIPRO, DRDO, Mahindra, BHEL, CSIR are the highest number of patent filing institutions in India. It is also seen that the revenue generated by the patent filing alone was Rs.41003.18 lacs equivalent approx. USD.60 million, design filing was Rs.551.44 lacs i.e. USD.800,000 (approx.), Trademarks Rs.19236.89 lacs i.e. USD.27 million, GI – Rs.12.40 lacs i.e. USD.17,000.00.
Now coming to Tamil Nadu, as of 2016 – 17 Tamil Nadu stood second with the most number of patents filing only after Maharashtra. It is important to note that Chennai is an important intellectual property hub of India. I would justify this by stating that Chennai not only has a Trademark registry office and patent office, but also headquarters the G.I. Registry office and the National Biodiversity Authority. In addition Chennai is also the headquarter for the Intellectual Property Appellate Board of India, has a bench of the National Green Tribunal. The recent addition of the Commercial Court benches of Madras High Court has given a big boost in dealing with IP matter with due importance and sensitivity the same requires. It is also relevant to mention here that in 2016 a separate IPR Enforcement Cell of the Tamil Nadu Police was formed to deal with criminal prosecution of copyright infringements, trademark, GI, in instances where Patents and Designs are combined with other IP. Thus one can be rest assured that today Tamil Nadu has given adequate importance in sensitising its state machinery in safeguarding intellectual property as we live in a world where Knowledge is Power.
In Tamil Nadu, there has been a vast variety of registered GI products like Kancheepuram Silk, Thanjavur Paintings, Swamimalai bronze icons etc. There are 25 registered GI products in Tamil Nadu. Thus, Tamil Nadu has been ranked third in 2017-18 in registering GI products.
Towards a Strong IP protection and Improved Indian economy some of the initiatives by the Govt. are:
1. Proposed Amendments to the Patent Rules, 2003:
a. Expansion of Rule 18(2) – This proposes e-submission of documents in respect of international application i.e. the PCT.
b. Expansion of Expedited Examination of applications – Rule 24(c) – This proposes addition of Small & Medium Enterprises and Women inventors in the applicants category for fast tracking the patent application process.
Hopefully these amendments could substantively bring about results in the patent process being user friendly and thereby encouraging a better investment climate.
2. Keen watchful eye in protecting traditional interests:
a. Most of you here must be aware that some years back the US patent and
trademark office granted patent to Basmati Rice with the name of Texmati and Kasmati. Indian government filed revocation petition relating to Basmati Rice before the US PTO. The US PTO after some dilly dallying eventually accepted the Indian revocation petition. Thereon the Govt. of India through the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Exports Development Authority filed GI application before the GI Registry seeking registration of Basmati Rice and this was finally granted.
b. In a similar case involving Ponni rice, the mark Ponni rice received a trademark registration under the Malaysia Trademark Act. This was opposed by the Indian Agriculture Export Promotion Agency, along with Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Indian farmers and two exporters. The action here was to have the mark “Poni” removed from the Register under S.45, as an entry made on the Register without sufficient cause and/or an entry wrongfully remaining in the Register. It was held in the case that since the term describes a rice variety from Tamil Nadu and is recognized by customers as such it cannot be granted a trademark protection. This
development helped India to increase its export drastically.
c. Darjeeling Tea – this is the first registration by the GI Registry in India. The diligent follow up by the Government in proceeding with an international protection application has resulted in a strong IP protection. This is in turn had its manifold affect in not only improving the export of Tea world over but also in protecting the livelihood of those dependent on it. Similar the Niligiri Orthodox of Tamil Nadu obtained a protection as a GI. This protection has enabled a sizeable increase in the Tea Exports, of which the share of Tamil Nadu is over a third (1/3rd). Thus on account of such proactive protection there is a better income generation for the stakeholders. India exports Nilgiri Tea and is ahead of China from 19.22% and tops the list in exports.
Finally, he summarised the importance of IP services for investors in R&D. In the years to come it is our endeavour to bring about a convergence between the Industrial Policy of Tamil Nadu and IP protection. We understand that Intellectual Property is important to businesses and the steps taken by Tamil Nadu in enhancing the effectiveness of its IP infrastructure namely the IPR Enforcement Cell of the Tamil Nadu Police and constant sensitising of the Judiciary in better handling and quick disposal of IP related matters would go a long way in making Tamil Nadu as a preferred destination for Research and Development.