Intellectual property rights are critical for Startups to protect their innovative ideas and creations. Startups must prioritize obtaining patents, trademarks, copyrights, designs etc., to safeguard their intellectual property. This becomes crucial due to the fiercely competitive business world we coexist in today. Companies with longstanding monopolies in specific trade sectors are extremely protective of their dominance while Startups face significant challenges due to limited resources and staff. One way to survive and grow in this atmosphere is to constantly innovate and develop products and services which ensure that Startups don’t lose their competitive edge.
SIPP AND TISC
The Indian government has constantly recognized the need to support and reform policies revolving around Startups. As a result of this, the Scheme for Startups Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP) was launched in 2016 which focused on facilitating stronger IPR protection for Startups in India. This pilot scheme was extended to 31st March 2023 due to its success and has further seen an extension up to 31st March 2026.
Parallely, in order to enhance global cooperation amongst members, the government of India and the DPIIT along with WIPO have established the Technology and Innovation Support Centres (TISCs)in India. These would help Indian innovators and entrepreneurs strengthen their focus on developing IPRs. The SIPP will also play an important role in promoting the utilization of the services of the TISCs under the wider aim of developing and safeguarding IPRs. This scheme, however, merely aids the applicants to garner protection for their IPRs and does not in any way transfer ownership of the same to either the facilitators or the government. Accordingly, the scheme does make any changes to the application processes or ensure registration for the IPRs, both nationally and internationally.
The reforms in the scheme saw an increase in facilitation fees by almost 100% in order to encourage IP facilitators to provide quality services to the applicants. These facilitators will be responsible for several functions as may be decided by the Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks (CGPDTM). Additionally, they will also be required to provide services on a pro bono basis which include advising applicants on IPRs and protecting the same in other countries. They would also be responsible for assisting with IP applications at the various IP Offices and international patent applications at the Receiving Office, India (RO/IN) or International Bureau, WIPO (RO/IB), electing India as International Search Authority (ISA) which includes drafting provisional and complete patent specifications, and ISA patent applications for inventions.
Regarding trademarks, they will aid in the filing to disposal of International Trade Mark applications originating from India under the Madrid Protocol. They will also prepare and file responses to search and examination reports, along with other queries, notices or letters by the IP office, India or WIPO, and appear on behalf of an eligible applicant at hearings, as may be scheduled. They will contest any opposition by other parties and ensure the final disposal of the IPR application.
The SIPP has seen multiple revisions in 2022 and 2023 based on the response received. The scheme continues to operate with the aim to provide high-quality IP services which focus on national as well as global protection and commercialization for IPRs developed in India. The core elements of the SIPP are the promotion of the facilities for the TISCs; increasing awareness and encouraging the adoption of IPRs by Startups in India; providing guidance and mentorship to emerging technologies among Startups, individual innovators/creators, and educational institutions.
The scheme provides certain qualifications to be an eligible applicant for receiving benefits under it. This includes any Startup recognized in terms of the notification GSR 127(E) published in the Gazette of India dated 19.2.2019, any Indian innovator/ creator who files an IP application through any TISC established in India and facilitated by a facilitator, any Indian educational institute fulfilling conditions specified in clause (f) and clause (h) of sub-rule (1) of rule 24C of Patents Act, 1970 filing an IP application through any TISC established in India, an eligible Indian applicant filing an international patent application as Receiving Office, India (RO/IN) or International Bureau, WIPO (RO/IB), electing India as International Search Authority (ISA). All eligible applicants must meet one requirement, which is to provide a self-declaration stating that they have not received funds from any other government scheme to pay for the services of a facilitator, patent agent, or trademark agent for filing and prosecuting their IP application.
The facilitators eligible to assist with the implementation of the scheme include any Patent Agent registered with the CGPDTM, any Trademark Agent registered with the CGPDTM, any Advocate as defined under The Advocates Act, 1961, who is authorized to practice law in accordance with the rules laid down by the Bar Council of India, and who is well-versed with the relevant Acts and Rules, and is actively involved in filing and disposing of trademark applications. Additionally, a government department/ organization/ agency or CPSU may provide authorized representatives to act as facilitators. TISCs are also eligible to act as facilitators in accordance with DPIIT Notification No. 5/1 /2017-CIPAM, dated 19.11.2018.
Further to ensure the efficient implementation of the scheme, CGPDTM will select facilitators through an empanelment process. The CGPDTM reserves the right to update the list of facilitators periodically as needed. The SIPP provides an elaborate fee structure that would be paid to the facilitators through the office of the CGPDTM. The statutory fees corresponding to the national or international applications would have to be borne by the applicants themselves.
In conclusion, SIPP is a noteworthy endeavour that offers crucial support to Startups, educational institutes, and individual innovators/creators in safeguarding and commercializing their intellectual property both within India and beyond. By implementing SIPP, the government aims to increase awareness and adoption of IPRs among Startups and provide them access to quality IP services and resources. With the assistance of facilitators, the scheme will help applicants overcome the complexities of the IPR protection process. Altogether, SIPP is an essential measure taken by the government to encourage IPR protection for Startups and stimulate creativity and innovation in India.
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