CLPR’s Comments to Draft National IPR Policy

February 3, 2015

In its comments to the Draft National IPR Policy prepared by the IPR Think Tank, CLPR argues that the Think Tank needs to rethink its approach of trying to formulate an omnibus IPR policy and treating stronger IPR protection as being synonymous with innovation and economic development. Instead, any IPR policy needs to find the optimal balance between IPR protection and promoting the democratic diffusion of knowledge and cultural goods, based on empirical evidence and taking into account the domestic political economy context of a country. In particular, CLPR makes three arguments:


  • It is inadvisable to design an omnibus IPR policy as ‘IPR’ as a category is made by aggregation of various distinct and diverse legal regimes that do not share a common economic rationale or a uniform institutional and policy framework. On the contrary, different forms of IPR protection, such as patents, copyright, and trademarks are all based on different economic models and justifications for their protection that makes it meaningless to talk of a single IPR policy.


  • The optimal balance between IPR protection and enhancing the knowledge and culture commons is one that depends on the political economy and stage of development of a country. IPR policy regimes, like all other public policy, must be situated in the domestic political economy and grounded in sound and adequate empirical evidence. The task of the Think Tank should, thus, be to arrive at this optimal balance between protecting the rights of IPR holders and the general public through the collection and careful analysis of empirical data in the Indian context.


  • There is no clear causal relationship between higher levels of IPR protection and increased innovation or economic development as IPR is only one among several incentives for innovation and creativity. Often reducing IPR protection induces greater innovation and hence it is a mistake to treat IPR as inevitably leading to greater innovation. Rather than treating strong IPR protection as an end itself, the Think Tank should look into different ways of increasing innovation and creativity and investigate the relationship between IPR regimes and the achievement of social goals in a rigorous empirical fashion.


CLPR’s comments also touch on three critical areas that have received little attention in the draft policy: treaty obligations, geographical indications law and the protection of biological diversity.


The full text of our response is available here.