The world has seen a boom in Globalization in the last 3-4 decades. Globalization has impacted every aspect of people’s lives, regardless of which country they belong to. Developing countries like India have seen a special boom in their economy due to the increasing trend in Globalization. However, Globalization has not only boosted our economy but has also led to the infiltration of new ideas where people have shifted their focus to the secondary and tertiary sectors. The increase in innovation demands an increase in the protection of these new ideas. The enhancement of participation of developing countries demanded the broadening of the IP regime to cover more products and resources and include public interest issues such as health, nutrition, environment, etc. As we entered the 20th century, the world escaped the crutches of colonization and many independent countries emerged. The interdependence on various countries, especially developing countries increased as they provided raw materials which were transformed into finished goods in the developed and technologically advanced countries (mostly situated in Europe). International trade was regulated through the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades (GATT), 1947.
However, in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, the world saw a shift as the secondary sector rose in developing countries such as India, Singapore, Taiwan, etc. The countries now felt a need for strong intellectual property laws to protect the rise in innovation and encourage entrepreneurship in these countries. The issue was raised in the Uruguay Round of Trade Negotiations which ultimately culminated in the enactment of Trade-Related Aspects on Intellectual Property (TRIPS) in 1995.
India’s advocacy for TRIPS in the negotiations was not only because of the changes in the international trade dynamics but also because it adopted a new economic policy. In 1991 India adopted a new economic policy that opened the gates for Liberalization, Privatization, and Globalization in India. This resulted in industrial and technological advancement which breed ground for innovation. Instead of depending on other countries, India started to manufacture its goods and services, hence, it became a strong advocate for Intellectual Property Rights, a key issue at the conference. Today, India is the world's fifth-largest economy and is emerging as the research and development hub for global MNCs in technology. Keeping the pace of innovation in mind, India enacted a National Intellectual Property Policy in 2016 which addressed important gaps in India’s national IP environment and strives to bring about a comprehensive reform in IP.
Globalization has emerged as one of the major reasons for the implementation of a strong IPR regime in India. We can say that both have facilitated one another. It is because of stable IPR laws that several MNCs have shifted or are shifting their research and development base in India. In recent years, we have seen a shift in manufacturing units of MNCs like Apple, Nike, etc from China to India. India is becoming an innovative destination of choice. India's intellectual property laws give these companies stability and encourage innovation. With the expansion of its economy, the government of India has launched new initiatives to increase awareness of fofIPR and include more products under its legislation.
In 2017 the government announced new Trade Marks Rules which replaced Trade Marks Rules, 2002. These new rules simplified the trademark registration process and upgraded the IP system to par with international standards. Apart from this, the National IPR Policy aims to bring all IPRs on a single platform take into account all interlinkages and thus create and exploit synergies between all forms of Intellectual Property. In order to reduce the burden on courts and ensure faster dispute resolution, the government has set up the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division, and Commercial Appellate Divison where intellectual property matters have been categorized as commercial disputes. These steps undertaken by the government have not only encouraged international companies but also helped domestic companies. Consequently, India has become the largest provider of generic drugs (pharmaceuticals), and it has achieved remarkable investments in engineering and increased R&D in the biotechnological sector.
However, even after continuous efforts in increasing IPR awareness and making the process easier, India has still not achieved its full potential. It has still a long way to go to get the top position in terms of promoting intellectual property rights. IPR continues to be an emerging field in Indian academia. One of the major reasons for this remains the red-tapism and the time-consuming litigation in India. India lacks in the development of Alternative Dispute Resolution. Arbitration, Negotiation, mediation, etc. are still in a very nascent stage in India. Apart from these general issues, there is a major lack of Research and Development in India. We only spend 0.7% of our GDP on R&D as compared to other developed countries like the U.S.A which spends 2.8% and China which spends 2.1%.
Even though we have started moving towards the secondary and tertiary sectors due to privatization and Globalization, still a major chuck of our population depends on the primary sector. However, IPR protection in agriculture is a very sensitive and unexplored issue in India. This is because agriculture is based on traditional knowledge and traditional methods, and not many farmers have the resources to know about the latest agricultural technologies. Hence, there is an urgent need to incorporate the agriculture sector as a stakeholder in the IPR debate, especially in countries like India where as much as 60% of the population is dependent on the sector.
Another distinction that has been ignored by many is that these new IPR policies are better suited for multinational companies. With the increase in the flow of big corporations in India due to Globalisation and Liberalisation, many smaller companies are eaten up by them. This not only kills future innovation but also denies small domestic corporations their intellectual rights.
From this discussion, the major takeaway becomes that even though we have come a long way since the 1990s because of globalization worldwide, we still face a problem with regard to the holistic development of Intellectual Property Rights. The development is restricted to niche areas of biotechnologies and pharmaceuticals. Globalization has brought with it consumerism which has pushed the market to new and innovative products and technology. Therefore, the need of the hour becomes to expand the protection of IPR to more and more products. Secondly, we need more awareness regarding these rights so that small businesses can also flourish under the new regime and are not eaten up by big businesses. This can be achieved through incorporating IPR subjects at college and university levels because these platforms provide students with the atmosphere to explore new ideas. They should also teach them how to protect these new ideas.