Managing Intellectual Property

Priyanka Sardana and Vijay Sardana

Intellectual Property (IP) is an idea that, when expressed in a tangible form, can be protected by law. Owners of IP are granted protection by a state under varying conditions and periods of time. This protection includes the right to defend their rights to the property they create, and prevent others from taking advantage of their ingenuity. The granting of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) balances public and private sector interests in that the invention must be disclosed publicly, but inventors have a limited right to exploit the invention for a defined period of time. It can assist the public good because it allows others to improve upon the invention and, after the termination of the monopoly rights, to develop competing products (as opposed to an invention kept as a trade secret).

The concept of IP is not new; it dates back to medieval guilds in Europe. In the US, it is codified in the Constitution. In agriculture, the concept of IP is well established (e.g. patents on farm machinery). In relation to plants, IP is also well established through the use of the plant variety protection (PVP) system.

Intellectual Property and their significance

Intellectual Property (IP) rights is the term that describes ideas, inventions, technologies, artworks, music and literature that are intangible when first created, but become valuable in tangible forms as products. IP is the commercial application of imaginative thought to solving a technical or artistic challenge. It is not a product itself, but the special idea behind it, the way the idea is expressed, and the distinctive way it is named and described.

However the lack of systematic recording robbed many innovators in India the ability to have their ideas improved upon and made economically viable. More so, the lack of a property rights regime that could measure to the countries that later colonized India made it easier for both physical and intellectual property to be seized by the occupying powers. Keeping knowledge secret, as did metallurgists and medicine men in India without proper records robbed this country of knowledge that would presently solve some of the ailments afflicting the country.

Opportunity in Liberalization and New Patent Regime

India is plagued by many problems ranging from social to economic that urgently indicate the presence of a unique market opportunity to innovators. Innovations may not necessarily be triggered by Intellectual Property Rights regime but also by the demand for solutions. It is therefore strategic for us to develop a quest within themselves to solve their own problems as a step to reaping benefits from IPR.

Trade restrictions have clearly failed the citizens of developing countries. It is time to try a new policy, which will promote domestic economic growth, spur innovation, and benefit consumers. There are several critical components to such a policy. They include the lifting of trade restrictions, respect for private property rights and contracts, and the assurance of freedom of choice in the marketplace. Such policies will induce competition and force producers to find better and cheaper ways of satisfying consumer demands.

Nothing is free in free economy

Another essential component of a pro-growth policy is protection of intellectual property rights (IPR). The approach to IPR is another distinguishing factor between developing and developed countries. The former generally considered knowledge to be free and IPR as an instrument for restricting access to knowledge. The unintended consequence of this approach has been that while knowledge may be free, it has also become scarce, dated and even unavailable, as there is no incentive to invest in the discovery process.

IPR regime will promote professionalism at all levels

In developing countries like India, Intellectual property is important as we have the largest number of scientific human resources, large gene pool and vast reservoirs of traditional knowledge that can be used to create new wealth of knowledge and products. The intellectual property regime permits individuals, universities and research institutes to file patents on inventions. This law will not only see increased collaborations between the public and private sectors in the India, but will also complicate transfer of technologies to organizations who are not willing to invest for the same.

The new IPR regime will also provide incentives for competent professionals and innovative approaches in private sector for investment in a research-intensive industry as this will give them exclusivity in market place. It in turn will boost their profits.

It will also create a market for knowledge by providing a legal base for technology sales and licensing. It will also help individual scientists and other professionals to prove their worth in the market place. Intellectuals from India migrate to wealthy countries in search of more rewarding challenges, better pay and recognition. An effective intellectual property regime that will make them stay home and help their countries create wealth is lacking. To stem brain drain, it is necessary to build institutions that can protect intellectual property. Such institutions will ensure that the Indian innovators build upon the already existing knowledge to solve India’s problems. India has become a mining ground for intellectual property with many researchers focusing on the biosphere and culture. In the absence of promoting system that protects property; chances of abuse are high.

Role of IPR in Agri-food industries

In the field of agriculture, intellectual property regime will spur activity among the scientists and farmers to facilitate new knowledge that will lead to innovations. Such innovations will save India from relying on “climate fed” agriculture and pave way to intelligently driven agricultural practices. Releasing agro-based population will expand other areas of the economy such as the tourism industry, the retail industry and other technologically oriented industries. This can also make India to effectively join the value added biotech industry and save her populations from malnutrition and hunger.

India must urgently seize this opportunity of protecting intellectual property for making her people more innovative and provide solutions to problems of Indian agriculture and food processing industries. Moreover it will also attract more investment and exchange of goods from other countries.

Intellectual Property Rights is a useful tool in maintaining the innovation process to make Indian food processing industry modern and competitive in globalized economy. It’s only through Intellectual Property that India will improve the agriculture economy of rural India, give more avenues for investment and also improve value addition and better prices for farmers in the country.

Right Time to Act

India is rich in biodiversity and indigenous knowledge, which has flowed freely to the developed countries and patented by them like basmati, turmeric, neem, etc. However global market trends are such that India must urgently address issues pertaining to property rights if they have to fit into the global economy and also stimulate inventions and innovations. The challenge facing India is how to produce high quality seeds, agro-chemicals, new food formulations, fine food chemicals etc. while at the same time tackling aspects of poverty and unemployment.

India is seen to participate in IPR as latecomers already faced with other priority issues and lacking capacity to enforce IPR regimes. Developed countries on the other hand, are known to protect property rights as a barrier to trade especially in the field of medicine and arts. Third world countries should enforce intellectual property protection for it’s own good whiles at the same time allowing more innovators to compete in their own countries in order facilitate affordable prices. 

Importance of IPRs

  • It is both just and appropriate that the person putting in the work and effort for intellectual creation must have some benefit as a result of his or her creation or endeavour.
  • Many such endeavours are encouraged and industries based on such work grow and brings financial returns.
  • Without the IP rights to exclude the competitors from also making the same product by copying. The other company creating such a new product would have no incentive to spend the time and efforts to develop that product.
  • Without Patent protection, such a company would face economic losses originating from the “free riding ” of their competitors.
  • Builds “brand loyalty” as it give protection granted by patents for years together.
  • Without the protections given within IP laws and treaties, any seed, food or pharmaceutical company or any health related industry simply would not commit an effort to experiment, in searching for new products.
  • Intellectual property rights help to extend protection to such things as the unwritten and unrecorded cultural expressions of many developing countries, generally known as folklore.
 

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