The Indian high technology market is assessed to be worth $550-600 billion by 2020 in the areas of electronic system design and manufacturing (ESDM), aerospace & defence (A&D), environmental technologies and renewable energy.

This translates into investments of over $140 billion into the hi-tech industry and creation of over 30 million high value jobs in the next five years. These technologies are a part of the intellectual property rights (IPRs) portfolio of global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that will be transplanted into PSUs, industries and R&D institutions.

In recent years, acrimonious noises by foreign MNCs, especially pharma, against Section 3(d) and compulsory licensing of the Indian Patent Act, attempts by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to push the Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT) and initiatives such as the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) have brought the focus on Indian IPR policy. The EU and the US have been advocating stringent IPR laws and accountable regulations. Consistent diplomatic message have been sent out to India, China and other developing countries to reform their IP systems.

Towards a policy

In order to increase hi-tech industrial manufacturing, the Centre has launched a slew of programmes and policies. A careful examination of these programmes from an IPR perspective shows that India now recognises the changing paradigm of IPRs as the next generation tool of global trade and commerce, and is willing to adopt global best practices on IPR advocacy. The recently established think tank has come out with its first draft of the IPR policy.

While the government’s proactive approach in laying the foundation of global best practices for IPRs is admirable, a look into State IPR policies indicates otherwise -- the permeation of IP policies and offering of an environment of inventiveness to industry has been abysmal. Moreover, most States do not have an IPR policy. Interaction with industry across various States revealed a lack of objective processes and administrative procedures to process claims. Research carried out by the World Intellectual Property Rights Bank, found IP awareness to be very low even in high-intensity environments such as R&D institutions, entertainment, ICT and hi-tech manufacturing. In stark contrast, awareness in foreign MNCs was very high.

One of the factors that separates developed countries from developing ones, is the synchronisation of the pillars of policy, industry and the legal environment. Agencies such as FDA have quasi-legal authority and jurisdiction beyond their country. It has the effect of solving industrial and trade issues with a synergistic approach, such as piracy, counterfeiting and responses to global frameworks and treaties.

What India needs

India not only needs a well-articulated policy based but also a quasi-legal empowered body that synchronises different ministries, brings together focused industry participation, and an integrated legal environment. The draft IPR policy articulates these requirements effectively but does not provide mechanisms of synchronisation and execution. A few successes in India have been the Software Technology Parks of India, SEZs and the Electronic System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) policy.

The most pertinent takeaway from the US examples is that successful regulators are set up by the highest authority of the land, are legally empowered and are focused on promoting their national technology vision and IPR portfolios. India too needs to evolve a regulatory regime focused on national technological and IPR portfolios in the domains of ESDM, entertainment, pharma and biotech, and ICT.

It is pertinent to address the mechanism to involve the States in the IPR orientation of our economy. Developed countries have addressed these initiatives through large industry-driven participation in the national regulatory bodies. A strong regional presence is an effective way of aligning industry with national technology/IPR portfolio and of national HR strengths.

The writer is the CEO of World Intellectual Property Rights Bank