Centre for Internet & Society

CIS filed an RTI application on August 11, 2015, seeking information regarding the functioning of the Sectoral Innovation Council (SInC) on Intellectual Property Rights. This post documents the responses received.

Nisha Kumar assisted in the compilation of this document.

The RTI application can be accessed here.

The following details were received from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP):

Creation of SInCs

A meeting, under the chairmanship of Sam Pitroda, was held on January 15, 2011, to discuss the setting of SInCs for various ministries. The SInCs would be autonomous and decentralised bodies focused on preparing a Roadmap for a Decade of Innovations in their respective sectors.

SInCs on IPR

The SInC on IPR had 12 members from various stakeholder groups including academicians, research organizations, industries and the government. There were no members on behalf of civil society organizations of non-governmental organizations. The manner and the basis on which these members were selected has not been disclosed.

SInC Meeting 1: September 7, 2011

The list of attendees is available in the file ‘Office Memorandum and list of Members of SInC on IPR’

A meeting for the SInC on IPR was held on September 7, 2011 under the chairmanship of the DIPP. This meeting was attended by only 9 members out of 12. Amongst those absent were Dr. Ranbir Singh (National Law University, Delhi), Prof. Govardhan Mehta (IISc, Bangalore) and Mr. Soshil Kumar Jain (Panacea Biotec). Additionally, organizations such as IIT, Delhi and BHEL and Tata Motors were represented by members different from the ones on the original list of members.

The agenda and minutes of the meeting are available here

The meeting had three items on the agenda – developing a framework for the National IPR policy, discussion on utility models and co-opting knowledge partners or research institutions for preparation of draft report.

i. Developing a framework for the National IPR strategy

Members were called to give their views and suggestions on the National IPR strategy. Firstly, it was unanimously submitted that measures to increase innovation in the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector had to be adopted. Different means for the same were suggested, such as improving access to databases on patents and non-patents literature, development of product catalogues by SME clusters and making low-cost technology available to SMEs through government acquisition.

Secondly, development of expertise to file pre-grant opposition for preventing grant of frivolous patents was emphasized upon. The members also agreed on identifying ‘white spaces’ that were lacking in innovation.

Finally, the members stressed on introducing a course on IPR in the curriculum of technical and post graduate/research programmes in science. Action point – all members were required to prepare a position paper on the framework of the national IPR strategy within 1 month of the issue of the minutes by the DIPP. It was suggested that the framework should include the philosophy for a National IPR strategy, objectives to encourage IP, measures for modernizing IP offices and interventions for promoting commercialization of IP. The draft framework can be accessed here

ii. Discussion on utility models

The utility model framework can be accessed here

It was agreed that the utility models should be protected through a separate legal framework. The maximum period of protection would be 8 years and the number of claims would be limited to 5. However, members agreed that this should not lead to evergreening of patents. Utility models will be covered in detail in a subsequent post.

iii. Co-opting knowledge partner/research institutions for preparation of draft report

Preparation of a National IPR strategy would require a detailed study of the present IPR scenario and its different aspects.

Action point – National Law School, Bangalore, was co-opted as the knowledge partner for preparing the draft report.

SInC Meeting 2: February 10, 2012

The agenda, office memorandum, list of participants and minutes of the meeting are available here.

Two different lists of attendees submitted in response to the RTI application (found here and here). As per both the lists, all the members were not present at the meeting and several organizations were represented by members different from the ones on the original Council.

The items on the agenda were –

  • Action taken after meeting 1;
  • Inputs for draft National IPR strategy; and,
  • Discussion paper on Utility Models

i. Action taken after meeting 1
The DIPP decided to take care of the administrative infrastructure of the IPR management in the country. The members were asked to give suggestions on the aspects of acquisition, protection and commercialization of IPRs.

It had been decided at the previous meeting that the position papers on the National IPR strategy were to be submitted within 1 month of the release of the minutes. However, only 4 members had given inputs. The remaining members were requested to expedite the same.

Also, National Law School, Bangalore, was unable to contribute to the preparation of the draft National IPR strategy. Hence IIT Delhi was co-opted as the alternate knowledge partner for the same.

ii. Inputs for the draft National IPR strategy

Several submissions were made by the members. Briefly, some of these were –

  • Diagnosis of reasons for not opting of registration of IPRs by SMEs;
  • Policy guidelines for the MOUs to be signed between the government and research institutions in case of government funding;
  • Need for DIPP to come up with policy on IPR ownership and management in case of government funding.

The members also supported the inclusion of a policy in the National IPR strategy to promote commercialization of innovations by individuals, SMEs and public sector units (PSUs).

iii. Discussion paper on Utility Models

Members were of the opinion that a utility model framework should be introduced to encourage individuals and SMEs to innovate. They were requested to expedite their inputs on the draft legal framework for utility models that had been circulated to them (available here)

The date of the next meeting was decided as March 22, 2012.

SInC Meeting 3: August 21, 2012

The office memorandum, list of participants and minutes of the meeting can be accessed here. Instead of the date decided at the previous meeting, the next meeting was held on August 21, 2012, 5 months after the scheduled date. Mr. N. K. Sabharwal was added to the list of members of the SInC on IPR. The grounds and procedure of the addition have not been made available. The new list of members is available here. The list of attendees for meeting 3 was not provided.

The agenda of the meeting was to discuss the draft National IPR strategy prepared by the DIPP on the basis of the comments received from the members of the Council. It is unclear if the remaining members also submitted their comments, as was requested in the previous meeting.

Some of the issues discussed were –
i. Adapting the draft National IPR strategy prepared by DIPP to the local conditions and developmental needs of the country – suggestions such as instituting an IP depository for technologies used in development of products and maintaining a dossier of judicial decisions on IPRs were made.

ii. Reviewing provisions for transfer of IPRs, including a restriction on transfer from an individual to a company.

iii. Making traditional knowledge (TK) of the country accessibly to universities and research institutions – it was suggested that a register should be maintained products developed on the basis of TK. Also, patents granted by the Indian Patent Office should be informed to universities and institutions for capacity building.

iv. Creating a fast tracking system for registration of green technology patents – the suggestion for a fast tracking system for green technology was supported and a similar system was prescribed for food technology.

v. Establishing an incubation fund to assist in research and development and acquisition of IPRs – SMEs would be given access to a patent pool and would be reimbursed up to Rs. 20 lakh for costs incurred in technology acquisition.

It was noted that the suggestions all pertained to the execution of the strategy. Members were requested to furnish suggestions regarding the strategy to the government. The draft strategy would be modified on the basis of the comments received from the members of the Council. It was also decided that the draft paper would be hosted on the website of the DIPP by the third week of September, 2012, for seeking inputs from stakeholders.

The Secretary (IPP) also suggested that the SInC on IPRs be reconstituted to include representatives from the industry and academia. The need for this is unclear since the industry (BHEL, Panacea, Bilcare) and academia (IIT Delhi and IIT Bombay, IISc Bangalore, NLU Delhi) were already represented in the Council.

SInC Meeting 4: April 30, 2013

The list of attendees and the minutes of the meeting can be found here. The Council had not been reconstituted despite the recommendation of the Secretary in the previous meeting.

Merely 6 members out of the total 12 were present for the meeting. Of these, certain organizations, such as BHEL, were also represented by people who had been not been present at any of the past meetings. It was agreed that members would not send representatives for future meetings since they had been nominated by their names. This had been a recurring problem in all the meetings so far. The agenda of the meeting was to discuss the draft IPR strategy and steps that needed to be taken further.

The draft had been prepared on the basis of the comments received from the members and the specific inputs of Mr. Sabharwal. Whether comments had been received from all the members, as had been decided in meeting 1, is unclear. Furthermore, there was no mention of the comments received from stakeholders after the draft paper had been published online in September 2012.

The following decisions were reached by the SInC –
i. The strategy document needed to be improved and made comprehensive to include IP issues relating to information technology, copyright, TK, plant variety protection, etc.
ii. The members were required to suggest 10 monetary and non-monetary incentives for harnessing creativity. The figure seems arbitrarily decided and there is no explanation for how this would affect the draft strategy itself.
iii. BHEL was to prepare a paper on schemes being implemented in the country for promoting innovation.
iv. The draft paper would be circulated after finalization. Thereafter, a two-year plan would be formulated to operationalize the IPR strategy.

Government Meeting 1: June 18, 2013

An office memorandum was sent stating that a meeting to discuss the improvement required in the draft National IPR strategy was scheduled to be held on June 18, 2013. Since no details about the meeting were sent, whether the meeting actually took place and what was discussed in unknown. The office memorandum is available here. The entire National IPR strategy can be read here.

Government Meeting 2: July 29, 2013

List of attendees and minutes of meeting here.

The meeting was held to make the National IPR strategy more comprehensive so that it could have a larger coverage. The meeting was attended by representatives of various government departments and ministries, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the SInC on IPR, which was represented by N. K. Sabharwal. A plethora of disconnected issues were flagged out. It was mentioned that concerns related to TK such as transboundary issues, sui-generis system for protection of TK and biopiracy should be incorporated into the strategy. It was also proposed that an Act for public funding of R&D should be introduced to foster innovation. Inclusion of a brief module on IPR in high school curriculums was recommended. The participants were requested to furnish comments in a written form to DIPP within a week of the meeting.

SInC Meeting 5: October 9, 2013

Agenda and minutes are available here.  Though originally scheduled for August 27, 2013, the meeting was shifted to October 9 due to administrative reasons. The office memorandum for the same is available here. Despite agreeing in meeting 4 that the future meetings would be attended by the members personally, only 6 members were present. Organizations such as National Innovation Council, IIT Delhi and BHEL were represented by people other than the members of the SInC.

There were four items on the agenda –
i. Finalization of the draft National IPR strategy – paragraphs pertaining to setting up a National IP Enforcement Task Force and creating a formal legal regime for protection of trade secrets were removed. The statement mandating organizations to align their innovation strategies to national requirements was also removed.
ii. Work-plan for 2013-15 under the IPR strategy – no discussion on this in the minutes.
iii. Suggestions on monetary and non-monetary incentives for innovation – paper on incentive mechanisms to be prepared by BHEL is available here.
iv. Issues of time period for renewal of strategy and establishing a committee to review the implementation of the strategy – no discussion on this in the minutes.

Additionally, the members were asked to provide textual contributions to the document within 10 days of the meeting to enable its finalization.

Response to Queries Raised in the RTI Application (available here)

Q1. How many meetings has the SInC held since establishment?

Q2. Please supply minutes and all related documents of all its meetings.
Provided by the DIPP and have been attached through the post above.

Q3. How much are the members of the SInC paid? Are members paid on the basis of time or number of meetings held?
DIPP: One member, Dr. Karuna Jain, was reimbursed R. 18,374/- for attending the SInC meeting on August 21, 2012. The response, quite clearly, does not answer the question asked.

Q4. Has the SInC done any work or produced any outputs other than the 2012 draft of the National IPR strategy?
DIPP: Yes.



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