Wednesday 29 May 2013


-Sadasivam, Consultant

Creativity is a mental process of generating new ideas, concepts and associations.

Innovation is the capacity to:

·         connect intellectual and organisational resources
·         Convert that into novel things
·         create value to products, services and processes

Innovation is the outcome of creative process.  Innovation begins with creativity.

SCAMPER is one of the techniques that can be used to generate creative solutions to a problem. It also helps develop new ways of looking at things and processes. In team settings it is an effective tool. SCAMPER is easy to use. SCAMPER provides a framework for thinking and asking questions in the process of creative problem solving.

The acronym SCAMPER is expanded as follows:

S = Substitute
C = Combine
A = Adapt
M = Modify
P = Put to another use
E = Eliminate
R = Reverse

The problem or challenge is first stated.  It could be a challenge in personal life or it could be a product, service or process that we want to improve.  After defining the problem a set of questions are asked as per the SCAMPER checklist.


S (Substitute): "What can I substitute in this process?"
C (Combine): "How can I combine other parts or processes?"
A (Adapt): "What can I adapt from ‘XYZ’ process or product?"
M (Modify): "What can I modify in this process or product or service?"
P (Put to another use): "How can I put ‘ABC’ to other uses?"
E (Eliminate): "What can I eliminate in this process or product?"
R (Reverse): "How reverse the way the process or product that is currently in use?"

These questions will help us think differently about our problems and help us find innovative solutions.

Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them. - Albert Einstein



The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a Federal Law established in 1998. It criminalized the development or use of software that makes it possible for people to access materials that are copyright protected, like music files, DVDs, or software programs. It also makes it criminal to disseminate copyright protected materials.

The impetus behind the DMCA is that computer piracy was quickly decreasing profits for those who disseminated information on the Internet or who sold software programs. Making pirated copies of materials like a word processing program, or duplicates of music were becoming an increasing headache for companies using the Internet or making profits there from.

The DMCA sought to address this by setting forth specific rules regarding the criminal and civil prosecution of those violating copyrights. In some cases violation would include plagiarism, not citing particular sources appropriately, or deliberate theft. It also includes programming code that can provide access to material that is encoded.

Programs like Napster for example are a direct violation of the DMCA because they allowed for people to download music files without paying the musicians and record companies. This program was able to get around encoding data, so that people could illegally download material, as defined by the DMCA.

Opponents to the shutdown of Napster argued that the DMCA overstepped itself because people were sharing filings, not engaging in seeking profit for their use. However, even this sharing theoretically violated the DMCA and thus Napster was ordered to shut down.

Backed by the recording and film industry, a proposed revamping of the DMCA would further tighten restrictions on items like file sharing. Not everyone supports this revised of the original DMCA. For example one of the targets of the DMCA is YouTube, where people often share copyrighted material.
Evoking some controversy, one major recording label, Warner, is giving the right to anyone to use their recordings to make short movies or videos. Further acts by other record companies might help end the looming controversy over YouTube's copyright infringements and make it easier for people to share and experiment with film and music files.

There are many organizations opposed to the DMCA, but their opposition may mean little since these organizations lack the lobbying power of some of the software, recording and film industry giants.


-S.Jagathis, IP Dome

The Deputy Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office described the granting of compulsory license for Bayer’s Sorafenib Tosylate to Natco as the “most egregious” example of anti-TRIPS (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) behaviour. The denial of patent grant to the Novartis too brought severe criticism from innovator sector of MNC pharmaceutical industry. The call is for India to ‘Harmonise’ her patent laws and her interpretation of the TRIPs obligations with that of mature IP economies, primarily, the US and the EU.

It was on this subject, that Swapna Sundar, CEO of IP Dome, addressed the National Conference on IP issues conducted by the TN Dr. Ambedkar Government Law University on the 25th of May, 2013. The presentation was well received. Below are some of the salient points of the presentation.

What is harmonization of Patent Laws

In general, harmonization is understood as the process of creating common standards across the internal market. Unlike unification which contemplates the substitution of two or more legal systems with one single system, harmonisation of law seeks to create consistency of laws, regulations, standards and practices, so that the same rules will apply to businesses that operate in more than one member State, and so that the businesses of one State do not obtain an economic advantage over those in another as a result of different rules.
There have been several efforts at harmonization, such as the Paris Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), TRIPs, and the Patent Law Treaty (to which India is not a party). A draft Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT) was also put forward. The treaties lay down some common minimum standards, and provide for applicants under the treaties to be treated on par with the nationals of the country where the receiving office is situated. Moreover, the applicant enjoys the right of preserving the priority date. Countries are also enabled to interpret the provisions to suit the requirements of their countries in certain circumstances. Compulsory license provisions too have been incorporated in the TRIPs since it took effect in 1995.

What are the different types of harmonization activities going on currently


On September 16, 2011, the America Invents Act was signed into law. The law made a crucial change in that, the person entitled to grant of a patent was changed from ‘first to invent’, to ‘first-inventor-to-file’ system, in harmony with the rest of the world where the right belongs to the ‘first to file’.  Simultaneously, the USPTO began engaging in earnest with harmonization issues around the world. The same year, the ‘trilateral offices’, comprising the Japan Patent Office, the European Patent office and the  USPTO celebrated 30 years of cooperation. The Tegernsee Group comprising the Heads of the European, Danish, French, German, Japanese, UK and United States patent offices was set up to study key harmonisation issues include grace period, 18-month publication, treatment of conflicting applications, first-to-file, and prior user rights.

The Five IP Offices (IP5) was set up to study harmonization between the five largest intellectual property offices in the world. The members of IP5 are:

the European Patent Office (EPO),
the Japan Patent Office (JPO),
the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO),
the State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China (SIPO), 
and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The IP5 Offices account for 90% of all patent applications filed worldwide and for 93% of all work carried out under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The IP5 have formed a Patent Harmonization Expert Panel (PHEP) to work on a comparative analysis study of the substantive laws which govern the five Offices’ practices with an eye on identifying potential areas in which harmonization may be achieved.

Is harmonization good for India

It is better for India to arrive at a negotiated trade-off with the industrialised countries with respect to Patent Law Harmonisation than to accept the ‘global best practices’ theory of harmonization. Accepting a standardized set of rules and activities would lead to unhealthy practices being entrenched in the system globally. For instance, methods of treatment which are patentable in the US, but not India, would become patentable in India as well.
Secondly, the advantages of harmonization accrue either to the industries with large budgets for invention, or to the patent offices which could see dramatic decrease in work pressure. MNCs would be able to benefit from the certainty and stability offered by a globally standardized patent regime and stronger broader patents. Harmonisation is not likely to lead to better social conditions particularly in the third world countries. Technology exporting countries would see a rise in royalty payments from technology importing countries.
Thirdly, India needs a period of calm and stability in which to devise intellectual property strategies consistent with both the TRIPS Agreement and the needs of their own emerging national and regional systems of innovation. We are only now learning to exploit the ‘flexibilities’ provided in TRIPs to better the life of the people.
Finally, some writers have called harmonization a way to ‘pull up the ladder’ to prevent those who have been left behind from climbing up. Others, have said that the harmonization agenda keeps shifting the goal posts forcing the less mature IP economy to reach an un-achievable goal of benefiting from IP and innovation.

Can we follow our own agenda

Swapna also called for policy makers in India to create an India-friendly harmonization regime in the countries where Indian innovation could result in material and social well-being of people. Some of the regions with which India could have treaties are the neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Myanmar. Countries in South East Asia and Africa would also be good markets for India. Secondly, the countries of the region could provide combined protection for petty patents, or innovation patents that would be useful to their people.