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Intellectual Property Rights literacy is need of the hour

Published Jun 11, 2016, 1:48 am IST
Updated Jun 11, 2016, 1:48 am IST
The promise that Intellectual Property Rights will be included in curriculum remains so.
Arogyapacha:  A patent fight is ongoing for this medicine that enhances immunity
 Arogyapacha: A patent fight is ongoing for this medicine that enhances immunity

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala has been mooting the idea that everyone should have Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) literacy from 2008. That is, way before the recently published National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy stated as one of its first objectives, including IPR in school curriculum. However, to this day, it remains a promise. An IPR activist and CSIR-NIIST scientist, Praveen Raj, recently submitted a representation to  Education Minister C Raveendranath to include IPR in curriculum.

Why is IPR literacy so important? Ajit Prabhu V, nodal officer, Kerala Patent Information Centre, says, “You may end up paying someone for your own innovations if you don’t file patents. Only recently I heard the case of a North Kerala innovator, who had designed a coconut climber. Their model, according to them, was replicated by a group of engineering college students. The latter has filed for a patent.”


Scientists too need to be IPR literate Even many from the scientific community are not fully aware of the dangers lurking in the minutiae of IPR laws. Praveen Raj, in an online forum, has shared about a patent conflict with a US company that was selling ‘Jeevani’, an anti-fatigue, immunity-enhancing medicine made from ‘Arogyapacha’. The herb used by Kani tribe as a wonder drug was studied by researchers at Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden Research Institute (JNTBGRI). The scientists isolated active compounds from the herb. JNTBGRI licensed the technology to an Indian pharmacy manufacturer, and the benefits were to be shared with the tribes.


However, unknown to all of these parties, a company in the US was buying Jeevani and marketing it in the US under the same name. It turned out that JNTBGRI had filed for a patent in India, but none outside the country.
 Failure to file patents is a loss not just for an individual or an enterprise, but the state itself. “Nowadays the level of a country’s innovation is measured from the number of patents filed. We call this the IP output. The IP output indicates a knowledge-base, a treasure for the state. Inability to file it does not just lead to monetary loss, but socio-economic and cultural loss,” says Ajit Prabhu.
 IPR Attorneys who can’t draft patents


It is not just the innovators or scientists who need to be educated about IPR. Jobichan C J, an innovator from Kuttanad, says that many IPR attorneys in the state do not know how to draft a patent application. He ought to know. For three decades, he had been travelling the length of the state in search of IPR experts. He could not file patents for 14 innovations. Finally he found Praveen Raj and the 15th one was filed in 2006. He became a poster boy of Kerala’s patent story as his ‘dehumidifier’ was granted a patent. 

“Foreign companies which already have a paent in other countries need Indian attorneys to file patent applications here. In this case, the lawyer only needs to copy their patent application. There are many attorneys who thrive only on this,” he says.  Inter-University centre for Intellectual Property studies.


The demand to include IPR in curriculum was mothballed when Prabhat Patnaik, the chief architect of the state’s IPR Policy, had suggested that the state should first focus on Traditional Knowledge legislation. Later, many concluded that the state had answered the need for an academy which provides IPR literacy, when it estblished the Iner-University Centre for Intellectual Property Studies (IUCIPS).  However, what is most necessary is not a full-fledged degree course for researchers, but short-term skill-enabl0ing courses.

Now, e-file and grab your patents easily



After Kerala had declared its IPR policy in 2008, many new ideas were suggested to improve the number of patents filed. One major step in this direction was the introduction of e-filing of patents, which simplified a process which was until then highly cumbersome. E-filing of patents was introduced in 2009 in the time of P H Kurian, the then Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks. “It helped make the examination of patents more transparent. The applicants sitting anywhere in the globe can follow the status of their applications, and see which official is handling their file.”


To file patents, the first step is to create a login ID and password on, the portal of the patent office. A software needs to be downloaded from the site to facilitate the application procedure. The soft copy of all the relevant documents can be uploaded using the software. An application number and CBR receipt get generated. The filing receipt and CBR are  generated immediately after the acceptance of the application.

The site also provides a list of IPR attorneys who can help draft the application. “There are lawyers who have passed an examination on IPR policy. Also, now many law firms have subject experts with a degree in science or engineering, apart from the lawyers. So now there are many attorneys who can draft patent applications,” says Kurian.


Location: India, Kerala