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Global Meet Hosted by Jindal University Shows the way for a Strong IPR Regime

NEW DELHI: A prestigious conference on Innovation, Competition and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues pertaining to the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) sector, concluded recently inNew Delhi. The forum generated intense discussions coupled with a host of recommendations, which if heeded, could make a world of difference to the IPR regime. The first-of-its-kind conference was organized jointly by Jindal Initiative on Research in IP and Competition (JIRICO) and Jindal Global Law School (JGLS) of O.P. Jindal Global University.

– Global experts deliberate on IPR, Technology and Policymaking issues in the ICT sector at the two-day conference organized by Jindal Initiative on Research in IP and Competition (JIRICO) of O.P. Jindal Global University

– Forum witnesses’ participation of over 50 speakers from 10 government agencies, 16 universities and 15 leading corporations and law firms

– Recommendation of best practices from experts likely to guide policymakers towards a strong IPR regime

The two-day forum enveloped eight sessions in total, reflecting on IP policy and innovation, Standard Setting Organisations, role of competition agencies, licensing of standard essential patents, comparative jurisprudence and future technologies.

Delivering the welcome address on the first day of the global conference, Prof (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar, Vice-Chancellor, O. P. Jindal Global University, noted that hosting the global forum was part of the larger effort of the university to engage in policymaking, by bringing together a diverse set of policy practitioners and stakeholders, under one single platform. He said, “The JIRICO conference is a golden opportunity for all the stakeholders, including courts, Competition Commission, technology companies, and academicians, who are interested in the growth and development of India to deliberate on key issues that can transform the nation into an ‘Innovative India’.”

Dr. M. V. Rajeev Gowda, Member of Parliament and a former faculty in IIM Bangalore, delivered the inaugural address at the forum and said, “New-age entrepreneurs are poised to ride the wave of globalisation and technology. There is a buzz in the air. IP rights need to be clearly established and protected to add value to innovation.”

Emphasising on adoption of a system to facilitate innovation and competition, Hon. F. Scott Kieff, Commissioner, United States International Trade Commission (USITC) said, “Every IP licensing arrangement or patent litigation process requires direct interaction with government officials. However, emphasis should be put to differentiate political environment and judiciary.” He further noted that the judicial decision-making is the key to regulate property rights, predictability, economic growth and competition and a predictable and flexible system is required to facilitate innovation and competition.

Speaking about transforming the IPR regime in India, Mr. Rajiv Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry noted, “If you don’t get protection, you will not have the incentive to innovate. The patent system in our country provides a limited monopoly of 20 years. But to transform the IPR regime of India, a lot more needs to be done, and DIPP looks forward to the expert opinions and key recommendations from this conference in this regard.” Mr. Aggarwal’s views resonated in the remarks from Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Member of Parliament and Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs.

India is yet to catch up with the rest of the world, with only about 1.6% of the companies applying for patents,” said Dr. Shashi Tharoor, in his valedictory address at the forum. Dr. Tharoor further called for a fresh approach to resolve ICT issues and said, “We should continue to incentivize and protect innovation. ICT-specific IP issues such as proprietorship of software are pretty complicated, and ICT patents are a matter of concern in the modern age of technology. The best minds need to come together for a flexible, innovative and fresh approach to resolve the dilemmas around ICT.”

JIRICO co-convener and an organiser of the conference, Prof. (Dr.) Ashish Bharadwaj said, “Under existing patent laws and policies of standard setting organizations, the global telecom industry has helped bring a change in the daily lives of billions of people at a speed unequalled in history. The race to obtain patents has actually structured competition in this field instead of restricting it, and one should not assume that these technologies would exist anyway.” Dr. Bharadwaj further noted that with less than one-third of the population in India having Internet-enabled phones, there is a huge growth potential, but the abysmally low propensity to innovate by Indian companies can seriously undermine the success of ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India‘.

Prof. (Dr.) Stephen Haber, Professor, Stanford University and Director, Hoover IP2, said that if India wants to leapfrog in a world dominated by manufacturing and technology, it has to follow a definitive and well-designed path for intellectual property rights’ application.

Prof. (Dr.) Vishwas Devaiah and Prof. (Dr.) Indranath Gupta of JIRICO underlined the importance of understanding the complexities pertaining to the cases involving the mobile phone industry. They highlighted the requirement of balance as the country moves forward in regulating the behaviour of SEP holders and implementers.

Industry and academic experts made many notable observations during their course of discussions at the forum, Dr. Zhou Duo, IP Legal Counsel, Alibaba Group talked about the best practices in standardization law, anti-counterfeiting and IP management at Alibaba in China, while Mr. Anil Bhardwaj, Advisor, Competition Commission of India spoke of the role of the Competition Commission in creating a level playing field for stakeholders. Ms. Latonia Gordon, Director of Standards Policy, Microsoft Corporation underscored the scope and breadth of a FRAND obligation and what constitutes the breaching or violation of a competition law.

Prof. (Dr.) Josef Drexl, Director, Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition (Munich) in his keynote address said, “There are different types of law related to IP-patent law, completion law, and contract law but in most countries there is no uniformity in these laws, and so reaching a consensus on judicial terms is not always that easy.”

“Competition creates incentives for innovation and patents, and competitive standard settings help us to derive the benefits of innovation up to an optimal extent. A strong IP regime can drive economic growth as well,” said, Dr. Anupama Sawkar, Attorney Advisor, Legal Policy Section, U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.

Dr. Akhil Prasad, Country Counsel India, Boeing International Corporation, said, “Modern corporations have understood that technology is a value-enabler for competition in the modern day business. Development and innovation in the aerospace and defence, should be shared in the open domain. This is what Boeing does as a market leader and R&D will significantly benefit from this.”

The objective of the conference to initiate policy deliberations on innovation, competition and IPRs issues was well served in two-days of intense and informed discussions and recommendations.

About Jindal Initiative on Research in IP and Competition (JIRICO)

Jindal Initiative on Research in IP and Competition (JIRICO) is an initiative of O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU). It focuses on initiating and complementing well-informed policy-related deliberations that can result in concrete reforms. Towards this end, JIRICO seeks to become a leading think-tank that engages in inter-disciplinary and high-impact work. This involves contributions from experts in the fields of intellectual property law, competition law, economics and management. Further, JIRICO will focus on global developments, with a special emphasis on the Indian policy environment, which can inform stakeholders about the issues in this niche area. JIRICO will provide a unique platform to facilitate dialogue amongst industry partners, policy makers, regulators, practitioners and academicians.

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