DIPP not in favour of utility patents proposed by IPR think-tank

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on January 23, 2018

Says it could lead to ever-greening of patents

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) is not in favour of changing the country’s patents law to allow grant of utility patents, as suggested by the think-tank set up by the government to draft a national intellectual property rights (IPR) policy.

The department argues that this less-stringent form of intellectual property protection could lead to ever-greening of patents.

Utility patents, known as petty patents, are exclusive rights granted for innovative utilitarian inventions that do not reach the level of inventiveness required for patents and are, therefore, accorded protection for a shorter time period.

“Allowing utility patents will be like encouraging ever-greening of patents in the industrial sector. One can just take an existing product, design it more efficiently and get a utility patent. We are not comfortable with this,” a DIPP official told BusinessLine.

The department, however, has not yet taken a call on the matter and is awaiting comments from other Ministries and departments on the draft IPR policy, after which it will make suitable changes and place it before the Cabinet for clearance.

According to the draft policy, petty patents or utility models should be recognised as a form of IP and a new law on utility models should be enacted to facilitate protection of small inventions.

The think-tank, headed by former Intellectual Property Appellate Board chairman Justice Prabha Sridevan, also stated that patenting utilitarian innovations will help India improve its score in global innovation indices, where its ranking has slipped to 76th among 143 countries.

Trade expert Biswajit Dhar said while discussions on softer rights, such as utilitarian patents and protecting traditional knowledge, were gaining ground, it could end up being a trap for a country like India, which has so far stayed firm on its decision of not diluting Section 3(d) of the Indian Patents Act, which denies patents for incremental innovations.

“Someone who has been denied a patent for not meeting the Section 3(d) requirement can go for a utility patent. Although it would be for a much shorter period than the 20-year protection granted to a patent holder, in instalments it could add up to 20 years or more,” Dhar said.

The proposed national IPR policy seeks to streamline existing rules and make necessary changes, wherever required, to foster innovation, accelerate economic growth, employment and entrepreneurship besides protecting public health, food security and environment.

Published on May 21, 2015

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