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Extensive World Economic Forum (WEF) surveys confirm that a country’s intellectual property protection is linked with its economic ‘competitiveness’. For 30 years, the World Economic Forum has conducted detailed assessments of the productive potential of countries world-wide. WEF’s Global Competitiveness Report, a survey of 133 countries, is designed as a “contribution to enhancing the understanding of the key factors determining economic growth and to explaining why some countries are more successful than others in raising income levels and opportunities for their respective populations; hence it offers policymakers and business leaders an important tool in the formulation of improved economic policies and institutional reforms”.

Macroeconomic stability, quality of governance, rule of law, business environment, education and productivity of the labor force, and the quality of infrastructure are also vital contributors to economic growth. IP protection does feature, however, as one of the significant determinants of the health of an economy. Indeed, the benefits of IPR are amplified as these other drivers in the economy improve. As the OECD has described this effect in a recent study of the interplay of these factors, “A strengthened IPR framework can create spillovers, incentivize innovation, increase trade and trade-related investment, and boost intellectual property-intensive economic activity.

 

Intellectual property protection, backed by government understanding, recognition and policy support, thus plays an important part of countries’ efforts to make the fundamental shift to a ‘knowledge-based economy’ based on value-added innovation and creativity. It is small wonder that in recent years countries like Singapore and the Republic of Korea and more recently South Africa, Cuba and China, increasingly have embraced IPR as an engine of domestic economic development.

 

Have you ever thought how companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc are able to get good market Capitalizations?  It is because of value of their intangible assets, their Intellectual Property Rights which they are able to leverage to create value for their shareholders and also become market leaders in their domain and command a premium.

 

Several measures have been taken to ensure continuous and unending improvement of the Indian IP ecosystem in the country and to create a strong and vibrant IP regime in India.

To this effect, Department of Industrial Policy and Planning (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, has formulated a multipronged strategy to develop an Intellectual Property regime in the country to promote creativity and to develop the culture of respect for innovations and creativity.

Over the years, the Intellectual Property Office has been radically transformed through numerous initiatives that have contributed tremendously to easing of access to the IP system, efficiency in processing of IP applications, uniformity and consistency in the examination of applications, transparency and dissemination of IP information, bilateral cooperation at the international level, and raising the awareness level of the public.

In recent times the Indian Government has created a lot of opportunities for promoting innovation and startups. Therefore, this is the right time for all stakeholders to embrace IP in their businesses because it gives businesses a competitive advantage in the marketplace. If a business has an IP, they get exclusive rights on that IP for an indefinite period in case of Trademarks and for 20 years in case of Patents.  Therefore, the greater number of IPs that are embedded in the technology or in product of a business, the more robust will be the entry barriers.

In addition, an effective IP portfolio will also aid in raising funds as it also gives a protection to the investors. So, if a business has a patent portfolio that is a market entry barrier, the investors also feel safe that their investment is protected because there are entry barriers into that product or service.

 

Indian universities and government-funded research organizations produce world-class research that is mostly published in scientific journals. While the society gains from the increased knowledge, the university or the government receives very little direct benefit.

 

Developed countries like the United States have been encouraging similar institutions to secure their intellectual property rights in the new technology arising out of the research in addition to merely publishing in scientific journals. The United States has a long history of supporting technical research and has gradually evolved to this model. India should learn from the experience of the United States in this regard. Premier institutions of learning and research in the United Sates provide effective models that use patents and their licensing as tools for technology transfer. A developing economy like India should benefit from the experiences of the United States in formulating a technology transfer regime.

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