India’s IP regime is going through a tumultuous period with the abolition of the IP appellate board earlier this year, the emergence of new technologies, and challenges associated with covid-19 vaccines. We brought together a panel of top experts to assess the IP ecosystem in a discussion moderated by Mithun Varkey. Here are the highlights
The covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on all our lives, and on businesses too. The mass adoption of online tools – for work, shopping and pleasure – is fundamentally reshaping the contours of commerce. IP rights and questions around vaccines and licensing are now daily conversations, and the rise of new-technology battlegrounds, such as the internet of things and AI (artificial intelligence), create fresh IP challenges.
Innovation is at the heart of any IP rights practice, and there is no doubt that India is firmly on the innovation highway. The country rose two notches in the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO) 2021 Global Innovation Index, to 46th out of 132 economies. Among lower to middle income countries, it shares the record for having beaten expectations for its level of development for 11 straight years.
India has had quite a momentous year from both the regulatory and judicial perspectives, the most headline-grabbing of all being the abolition of the IP Appellate Board (IPAB).
There have also been recent judicial actions that have expanded India’s IP jurisprudence – dynamic injunctions by the Delhi High Court late last year; and the anti-anti-suit injunctions in the Xiaomi-Interdigital case. Against this background, we assembled our virtual roundtable – an exciting mix of general and IP counsel from some of the biggest Indian and multinational companies.
The full video of the IBLJ virtual roundtable
Our host was Abhai Pandey, a partner at LexOrbis. His guests: Eros Digital General Counsel Bishwarup Chakrabarti; Debolina Partap, Wockhardt senior vice president of legal, and group GC; Faiz ur Rahman, head of IP and associate vice president, Infosys; Samsung R&D Institute India’s head of IP and innovation, Ramachandran Lakshminarayanan; and Siemens India associate vice president and head of IPR, Pranay Prabhugaunker.
Abhai Pandey: It has been a very strange but interesting time for the past 15-20 months. It’s been difficult for us to hold meetings, which used to be a regular part of our routines. So, India Business Law Journal took the initiative so that we can meet and discuss developments.
Technology is playing a major role in our lives, both on the personal as well as professional fronts. We are seeing the emergence of new technologies, and related IP challenges around that. There are two parts to the technology challenges: The changes we have seen at the institutional levels, such as digitisation of paperwork and filings, and the holding of proceedings over videoconferences. Similarly, in pharmaceuticals and healthcare there’s a paradigm shift: The focus of most of the industry, the state and institutions, have turned to public health, and much work has been happening around the vaccines to deal with covid-19.
There are also changes in the legal and institutional frameworks within the IP space, one of the most prominent being the abolition of the IPAB. We used to have a three-tier system for dispute resolution of IP cases: the IP Office where things get resolved; an appellate board, which had both original and appellate side jurisdiction; and direct jurisdiction through the courts. Now that tier two has been abolished, so there’s a direct relation from the IP offices to the court. We hope that’s going to be good, particularly when the courts have taken initiatives such as Delhi High Court’s new IP division.