Interrelation between Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan and Intellectual Property
The global outbreak of coronavirus has caused enormous harm to the Indian economy. The Prime Minister, while addressing the nation on May 12, 2020, introduced a novel scheme called “ATMA NIRBHAR ABHIYAN” to make India self-reliant. He also raised a clarion call to the nation giving a kick start to the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan (Self-reliant India campaign) and announced the Special economic and comprehensive package of INR 20 lakh crores, which is equivalent to 10% of India’s GDP, in order to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in India.[i]
Hence, the Government has set the country on a new journey to make India self-sufficient to uplift the economy. The main objective of this scheme is to make India independent, provide aid to the impoverished migrant workers and labourers who are adversely affected by the coronavirus crisis, the people whose conditions are exacerbating during this extraordinary phase and to provide relief measures to Micro, small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs), Housing Finance Companies (HFCs), contractors, real estate and salaried workers.
VOCAL FOR LOCAL CAMPAIGN
The rationale behind aiming for a self-reliant India is to increase manufacture and production in the country, and restrict the utilization of imported goods and services. The scheme is linked to the campaign of “VOCAL FOR LOCAL”, which is an appeal to the citizens to purchase and promote made-in-India products.
The Prime Minister while delivering his seventh consecutive Independence Day speech on August 15, 2020, apprised the citizens that the goal of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan will only be achieved when the local products are appreciated in the market. If this does not occur, then our products will not get the opportunity to do better and will not get encouraged.[ii] This campaign is acceptable in theory, however, in practice, it would be onerous to accomplish in the near future because it will be challenging for the Indian industries to maintain the same standards and quality as compared to the global products in the international market.
As per the World Intellectual Property Indicator 2019 Report, India is ranked as the top tenth nation for Intellectual Property filing activity.[iii] But a large number of Indian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), being one of the largest contributors to the Indian economy, are unaware about the significance of Intellectual Property.
Conventionally, Indian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have relied on creating and protecting tangible assets arising from land, machinery and office equipment along with their revenue and receivables, in order to boost their valuation and prestige among their peers and in the industry. However, as per global experience, MSMEs have catapulted into the big league of large enterprises by transcending borders, that is, Multinational Corporations (MNCs), when they invest in the creation and protection of intellectual properties (IP) and intellectual property rights (IPRs).[iv] It is necessary for the Indian enterprise to know that they can have one or more intellectual property rights. The innovation created by the Indian enterprises will be beneficial for them as well as the State only when it has protection accorded to it.
Out of the various kinds of intellectual property rights that are available, MSMEs can easily acquire the intellectual property rights in the following intellectual properties which will help them expand their business in the market, and also contribute towards the growth of the country’s economy.
MSMES AS PATENT HOLDER
MSMEs can acquire a patent for their innovative creations if they fulfill the universal patentability criteria which includes the following:
3. Inventive step
4. Industrial applicability
In India, in order to patent an invention, there is an additional requirement apart from the above patentability criteria, it must not belong to the criteria under Sections 3 and 4 of The Patent Act, 1970.
MSMES AS TRADEMARK OWNER
MSMEs can also have a registered trademark which will enable them to attract consumers in the national and international markets. Their products can only be manufactured, produced and sold by them because the trademarks never fall in the public domain, which prevents any unauthorized use from the third party. Hence, an enterprise that produces a unique product must register its logo to distinguish itself from other competitors.
MSMES HOLDING INDUSTRIAL DESIGNS RIGHTS
MSMEs can also acquire industrial designs protection. In a legal sense, the industrial designs constitute the ornamental aspects of an article. An industrial design may consist of three-dimensional features, such as the shape of an article, or two-dimensional features, such as pattern, lines or color.[v]
According to Designs Act, 2000, the requirements to qualify for the industrial designs protection are as follows:
1. It must be novel and original
2. It must have industrial applications
3. It must be related to the shape, pattern, lines or color of an article
4. It must be easily distinguishable from known designs or combinations of designs
5. It must not already be in the public domain
Industrial designs are an additional alteration made to the product for commercial purposes in respect of its outer appearance which does not change the functionality of the product but increases the aesthetic value of the product. Therefore, it makes the product more attractive and appealing to the consumers and in turn, increases the marketability of the product.
MSMEs must apply for industrial designs protection to prevent others from misusing their creation in the global market. According to Section 11 of the Designs Act, 2000, a design can be protected for a period of 10 years and that protection can be further extended for 5 years on the application of renewal.
MSMES AS COPYRIGHT OWNERS
Copyright is another kind of intellectual property which provides benefit to those who are involved in the expression of their ideas in a distinct manner such as by novels, poems, filming, paintings, songs and in other ways. Enterprises involved in such unique innovations must apply for copyright protection under The Copyright Act, 1957, to prevent unauthorized use of their creative work. Once the owner gets copyright over their creation, they have the right to control their work and it will be available to the public only with the permission of the copyright owner.
MSMES AS AUTHORIZED USERS
Geographical Indication is another important kind of intellectual property which can be beneficial for MSMEs up to a large extent. Geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that geographical origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production.[vi]
Goods which possess uniqueness due to their place of origin must be registered as geographical indication under The Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. Thereafter, the artisans, proprietors and traders having small or micro sized enterprises producing such goods must register themselves as authorized users in order to avail the benefits and prevent the unauthorized sale of the GI goods. The GI tagged products can be promoted in export market which will benefit the artisans, and add to the economic prosperity.
The exclusive rights conferred by the filing of intellectual property prevents the innovative creations such as patent, copyright, trademark, trade dress, industrial designs, and circuit designs of industries from being exploited in the market by a third party. Hence, there is an immense need for the MSMEs to acquaint themselves regarding the importance of intellectual property. When an intellectual property is filed, it enhances the competition in the national as well as the global market, which also makes it an essential tool for the development of the economy.
The government has taken a major step to provide relief measures to the Micro, Small and Medium enterprises to succour them recover from the losses suffered due to the pandemic. However, the government should also constructively execute the Intellectual Property Awareness scheme in light of Atmanirbhar Scheme and Vocal for Local to spread awareness amongst the MSMEs regarding the importance of filing intellectual property, which would consequently provide IP efficiency and build up the pace of Industrial growth in the country.
India did not manufacture PPE kits during the initial days of the corona crisis, however, the country is now currently manufacturing two lakhs PPE kits and N95 masks on a daily basis.[vii] Undoubtedly, India, as a nation, is capable of manufacturing and producing various goods in the country itself, and thereby limiting the usage of imported goods. However, it is impossible to completely cut down the import of all the goods, such as raw components and electronics, in the near future.
ENDNOTES [i] Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan – Overview, Invest India (Nov. 09, 2020), http://www.investpedia.gov.in/atmanirbhar-bharat-abhiyaan. [ii] Vocal for local should become mantra for every Indian: PM, Times of India, Aug. 15, 2020. [iii] Jitendra Singh, India among top 10 countries in intellectual property filings, Entrackr, Oct. 18, 2019. [iv] Rahul Bagga, Why MSMEs should treat Intellectual Property Rights as assets, Economic Times, May 13, 2019. [v] Industrial Designs, World Intellectual Property Organization (Nov. 02, 2020), https://www.wipo.int/designs/en/. [vi] Geographical Indication, World Intellectual Property Organization (Nov. 02, 2020), https://www.wipo.int/geo_indications/en/. [vii] From zero, India produces around 2 lakhs PPE kits per day, Times of India, Nov. 06, 2020.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This blog has been authored by Pooja, who is a Final Year B.A., LL.B. student at Ramaiah College of Law, Bangalore.
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