Friday, 19 July 2013


-Swapna Sundar, IP Dome

The teaching of Intellectual Property (IP) Law in Indian law schools, at the Post-Graduate level has to undergo a radical change in order to produce IP professionals who have the ability to deal with the increasing complexity in the use of IP in industry as well as the increasing sophistication in the practice of inland and cross-border IP.

The most popular courses on intellectual property offered by law schools generally cover the following topics:
·         an introduction including the evolution of intellectual property, the rationale behind intellectual property protection and the history of intellectual property protection in India
·         the international conventions and treaties on intellectual property
·         definitional content including the historical origin and development of different types of intellectual property rights
·         infringement and remedies
·         Constitutional and social aspects of enforcement of intellectual property
·         (and in some courses) protection of traditional knowledge and biodiversity

A survey of the practical courses on intellectual property offered by Management schools andPG diploma courses discloses that a few of them include some hours of additional subjects such as:
·         drafting of patent applications
·         filing procedures for protecting different intellectual property rights
·         the benefits to be derived from using intellectual property rights appropriately in industry, including a superficial understanding of licensing contracts and valuation of intellectual property
·         a superficial introduction to search and analysis of intellectual property databases

In industry, intellectual property has crucial roles to perform in different aspects of economic activity such as developing, branding and marketing new products and product lines; non-linear business and revenue generation models; as assets as collateral for raising funds; as assets towards a leveraged position in commercial negotiation; and as testimony to the innovation capacity of the company. In the unfortunate situation when the holder of intellectual property is deprived of the opportunity to derive economic benefits from as intellectual property, he approaches lawyers for remedies. Deprivation of economic benefits may occur due to several reasons, such as infringement, restriction in his use of intellectual property (not having freedom-to-operate in the market), or non-payment of royalties.

Typically, in the teaching of intellectual property law at Indian law schools, far more emphasis is placed on the circumstances where an intellectual property rights holder is deprived of economic benefits from his IP and the remedies available to him. This understanding offers a lawyer, very narrow role to play in the development of intellectual property in industry. Young lawyers trained in this approach, carry forward a paranoid and highly suspicious outlook to intellectual property in advising their clients, whether they be corporate lawyers or advocates.

The second fallout of this approach is that promoters of companies often see intellectual property as a cost centre, rather than an investment centre. In the long run, this reduces the budget available to the R&D infrastructure. In the past, this mind-set has resulted in far lower investment in R&D, than is seen in countries with comparative growth rate, leading to a situation where Indian R&D lags far behind other countries, despite having reputed engineering and science universities and colleges. While this is necessary to be explored, in the current essay, I'm restricting myself to providing a new paradigm in the teaching of intellectual property in law schools.

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