The potential of knowledge as a creator of wealth is gaining currency all around the world, but only usable knowledge that is protected or protectable can have the potential of wealth creation. The inclusion of IPR in the GATT agreement is an indication of this realisation. We will have to pay urgent attention to enhancing our levels of innovation and creativity substantially. A major change in the offing is due to India’s accession to World Trade Organisation (WTO). Generation of intellectual property, its capture, documentation, protection, evaluation and its exploitation assumes a crucial importance in the new context. Indeed, there will have to be a sea-change in our ability to manage our intellectual property – be it patents, copy rights, designs, and so on. The greatest challenge will be posed by patents.
Manpower planning for IPR protection will need emergency measures. A number of steps will have to be taken by our institutes. IPR must be made a compulsory subject matter in the law courses in the Universities in India. Our graduates coming out of engineering and technology streams have no idea about IPR, and yet it is these young people, who will have to introduce key elements of IPR in their courses. A number of patent training institutes will have to be set up. China has set up 5000 patent training institutes, whereas we have non in India at the moment! It is a matter of deep concern that with a 100-year old system on patents, in India 4000 patents were filed last year, whereas with just a 10 year old system, China had 90,000 patents last year.
Skills in filing, reading and exploiting patents will be most crucial in the years to come. Our ability to read or write patents is very poor. In that sense, patent literacy in India is lacking to a great extent. Neither can we properly protect our inventions nor can we understand the implications of the patents granted to our competitors. A patent literacy mission will have to be launched with a sense of urgency.