Let me at the outset begin by announcing that the Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO which were held from September 26th – October 3rd, 2006 have approved the request of NIPO for grant of Permanent Observer Status as National Non-Governmental Organization. This association with WIPO in a formal capacity would certainly enhance our capability to play a proactive role in enhancing India’s competitiveness through creation and exploitation of knowledge–based assets for strong and sustainable IPR-based, knowledge-oriented industrial and economic growth and also ensure that the advocacy, outreach and empowerment activities of NIPO are in tune with the international thinking.

I am also pleased to inform you that NIPO has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) for developing training programmes for protection and commercial exploitation of intellectual property rights for scientists, administrators and enforcement agencies which we would endeavor to commence shortly.

NIPO over the past five years has taken a series of initiatives on live current IP issues most of which would have long term social as well as economic implications for the country. We have started programs to bring together all three constituencies viz. the Government, Trade and Industry and Civil society to deliberate upon the implications of the globalized IP regime and develop an approach to create a framework to implement the new IP regime and chalk out strategies to harness the opportunities which lie for our country.

India still remains under the Special 301 watch list of the US Trade department mainly due to poor enforcement of our IP laws and also because of issues relating to protection of data. We should not allow this to continue any further especially so when we have amended all our laws and are fully TRIPs compliant. Data privacy and protection are vital issues which affect all and one. Data privacy has much wider ramifications as India is a big outsourcing destination and a laidback approach to this important subject could lead to data from EU and the US flowing to other countries. Data exclusivity which deals with the reliance of data submitted by the patent holders for marketing approvals by generic drug manufacturers is an equally vexed issue with the generic drug manufacturers vehemently opposing any such disposition and the patent holders crying foul over unfair commercial use of their data by third parties.

The Government of India while having already taken the initiatives to amend our IP laws and modernizing the IP office infrastructure could now focus on an action plan to operationalize our new IP regime to ensure the visibility of our efforts in the developed economies. NIPO proposes that there should be greater involvement of non-governmental organizations to supplement the efforts of the government agencies to create a mass public awareness to demystify IPR’s, emphasize on IPrelated issues in which the country has a specific interest, viz.protection of TK, use of genetic resources and plant variety protection, strengthening of patent infrastructure, creating effectivedocumentation systems and databases to speed up patent applications examination and processing and identifying and using International best practices for revamping our IP system.

Enforcement being an important issue NIPO calls upon the Ministry of Home affairs to create a special task force for training the police departments all over the country for proper enforcement of the updated provisions in the existing laws which now have a lot of teeth. NIPO would be willing to associate with the Government and extend technical assistance for this purpose.

The NIPO website has been totally revamped and now contains a host of new and useful features such as IP trade and licensing, IP watch, Piracy check, IP news and hosting of resumes of IPR professionals, and we aim to develop it into a full fledged IPR helpdesk. Our membership base has been rising steadily and we now have over 300 members representing trade & industry, legal professionals, academics, civil servants, students and people from all walks of life.

Our aim is to become the leading advocacy forum for intellectual property (IP) issues and we would be actively associating with other organizations working in this area in furtherance of this objective. We are grateful for all your support and look forward to your inputs and help to achieve our goal of promotion and protection of IP and harnessing knowledge assets for social and economic development.

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