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Symposium stresses need to set up patent office
Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, Oct 12 – The need to set up a patent office in Guwahati in order to make it easier for the region to raise queries in matters of Intellectual Property and pace up innovations was stressed on Thursday last by Rajesh Prasad, Commissioner Industries, Government of Assam.

Addressing a two-day symposium on Intellectual Property Rights organised by FICCI in association with the Intellectual Property Office, Govt of India, Prasad said that the Government of Assam has initiated proactive steps to protect the traditional knowledge and intellectual property. “A number of applications have already been filed for GI and trademarks, etc. But whatever we are doing is clearly not enough and it is time to address the challenges in this connection,” said Prasad.

In today’s globally competitive environment, Intellectual Property (IP) has placed itself on a pedestal in the context of economic growth and is becoming increasingly important. Intellectual Property is the fuel that powers the engine of prosperity, fostering invention and innovation. The increasing significance of intangible assets in the global economy is forcing business organisations to actively manage their IP as a key driver for building and sustaining their competitive advantage and achieving superior performance.

The major objective of the seminar is promoting education, sensitisation, facilitation and protection of Intellectual Property in the North-east.

It needs to be mentioned here that many innovations happening in the small and medium-scale sectors and in the rural areas of the country are simply passed off as ‘jugad’ and no attempt is ever made to secure the intellectual property in these cases. “We need to make a concerted effort to document and secure these innovations and many new clusters need to be identified which can apply for Intellectual Property Rights,” Prasad added.

He emphasised the dire need to shift focus on investing in knowledge-based capital rather than on physical capital. “The new IP policy being proposed must differentiate between the capabilities of smaller and bigger business entities so that benefits could be availed adequately by all the sectors. Documentation processes, for instance, need to be simplified for rural populations. Also, keeping in view the unique features of the North-east region and its local industries, policy provisions should have suitable provisions to encourage entrepreneurs to pursue their creations and inventions”.

Notably, in the top 500 companies globally, during the late 1970s, 95 percent of their assets were tangible and only 5 percent was intangible, and by 2010 this had become 20 percent tangible and 80 percent intangible assets. “In the beginning, around 3000-3500 applications were being filed. Now the number of applications being filed are around 43,600”, said Dr SK Mitra, Deputy Controller, Office of Patents, while speaking about the history of patenting in India. “Networking is necessary in order to facilitate the process of promoting for Intellectual Property and this has to be ensured by organisations like FICCI,” he said.

IPR-related issues in India like patents, trademarks, copyrights, designs and geographical indications are governed by the Patents Act 1970, and Patent Rules 2003, Trademarks Act 1999 and the Trademarks Rules 2002, Indian Copyrights Act, 1957, Design Act 2000 and Rules 2001, and the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999 and the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Rules 2002, respectively. Recognising the importance of Intellectual Property Rights, the President of India has declared the decade of 2011-2020 as the Decade of Innovation.

Even though India has developed TRIPS-compliant frameworks for the creation and protection of IPRs, it still has to accelerate its pace of patenting innovation in a way which might be comparable to some of the advanced economies in the world. The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is an international agreement administered by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that sets down minimum standards for many forms of intellectual property regulation as applied to nationals of other WTO members.

Mukesh Sahay, Additional Director General of Police (CID), Prafulla Saikia, Additional Director, Department of Industry and Commerce, Dr Silla Ramsundar, National Law University and Judicial Academy, were some of the prominent speakers on the first day of the seminar.

It is noteworthy that FICCI has recently set up an Intellectual Property Facilitation Centre (IPFC) in association with the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) here in Guwahati to encourage innovations and help protect the Intellectual Property Rights of micro, small and medium enterprises in the North-east. FICCI also provides several certification courses on IPR as well.

Earlier, Dipankar Barkakati, head, IPR division and FICCI Cascade, FICCI, New Delhi said that the programme would look towards creating awareness amongst the stakeholders so that knowledge and innovation becomes the twin engines of development in the region.

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