Skill Development

Protecting Secret Home Recipes! – The role of IPR in protecting the skills of unorganised sector of India

The unorganised sector in India consists primarily the small and family enterprises in the rural areas and is marked by low incomes, unstable and irregular employment, and lack of protection either from legislation or trade unions[1]. Many of these enterprises are based on the skills they have inherited from their forefathers such as Kutchchi patchwork, Bhairavgarh Prints etc. Several products are distinguished based on their region such as Basmati Rice cultivation of Punjab. As much as these skills and products have a ready market on a global front that also face a tough competition from the dumping, reverse-engineering and duplication practices by other countries. Can these products and skills be protected by any mechanism such that they can not only be sustained but also made to flourish and enrich the economy from giving it the competitive edge? The answer is YES!

You would think that the statement: “The Third World War would be fought on Intellectual Property Rights” is like talking about camels walking in the Tundra. But believe me, once we know the intricacies and power of IPR, one can hardly question the ‘truth’ mentioned in the statement. The rights of production and sale of Basmati Rice is protected under Geographical Indication for India and Pakistan. Under the TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement, countries have enacted laws on IP in their countries giving protection to people, businesses and ideas from actions against their well-being or value.

IPR consist of:

 

  1. Patent

  2. Copyright

  3. Trademark

  4. Geographical Indication

  5. Industrial Design

IPR are probably the most important aspect for an economy like India which needs to protect the interest of its citizens while being open to the world trade. India has been very clear and aggressive whenever its intellectual property has been played with. Take the case of India-US fight over turmeric. Yes! India claimed the right to use of turmeric as a medicine to cure wounds etc. India was questioned internationally on the validity of the claim. One would have considered it an easy answer in favour of Big Daddy. All we know is that US was denied the right to use turmeric as a medicine to cure wounds.

India is a country not only rich in resources, but in culture, brains (Yes!) and innovation. We have a lot to offer the world. The huge unorganised sector in India can be strengthened by offering the stakeholders IPR protection enabling them to maintain their competitiveness in the market. The stronger the IPR enforcement in a country, the more business strengthened, nurtured and protected, leading to a better economy. IPR is crucial to businesses in the ever increasing rate of innovation, changing technology portfolios and knowledge gaps in the market. Businesses want to safeguard their interests in the countries they operate in. In fact, one of the first conferences on IPR agreements was funded by private organisations. The Intellectual Property of a nation is a critical asset. In such a situation, a nation has to formulate its policies on IPR in a way that create a wall of protection for the nation from the interaction with the outside world. Indeed, while globalization has opened doors several reverse effects, IPR enforcement clears the stance of a smart developing nation like India in protecting its economy from undue influence. The recent case of Glivec – Novartis explains how India knows its way out!

 

Janak A Jain

Janak is a Policy Officer at Youth for Policy and Dialogue and currently a student of MBA (Tech) at SVKM’s NMIMS, Mumbai. He can be reached at janak.nmims@gmail.com.

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