‘IP is the best way to harness knowledge’

Guriqbal Singh Jaiya, Director, SME division, World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) talks to Sapna Dogra about the importance of IP for the biotech sector and SME initiative.

What are the objectives of WIPO’s SME initiative?

The main objective is to promote an active and effective use of IP system by SMEs and strengthen the capacity of national governments to develop strategies, policies and programmes to meet the intellectual property needs of SMEs. WIPO also works towards improving the capacity of relevant public, private and civil society institutions such as business and industry associations, to provide IP-related services to SMEs. Also, it provides comprehensive Web-based information and basic advice on IP issues to SME support institutions worldwide.

With the onset of patent regime, do you think the awareness of IP has risen in India?

The awareness has surely increased and as far as big companies are concerned, they have high level of security arrangements and IP systems. However, they are not doing IP audits and there is no IP strategy. Of course, these companies have good trade secret policy but they can do better than that because competitiveness and espionage are also emerging threats that require urgent attention. For instance, storing life from biological material need bigger focus on protecting trade secrets. Actually, there is need to create an IP culture in the country because IP is the best way to harness knowledge.

Are you satisfied with the patent infrastructure in the country?

I think, there’s more to be done in making our patent system more efficient. Having patent offices in different locations doesn’t really help. I strongly feel that the patent office should have followed the EU model.

On the other hand, trademark offices are more efficient and are doing their job effectively in the country.

What is the importance of IP in biotechnology?

IPR forms an integral part of the business model of biotech firms, especially patents, as they are often the most crucial asset they own in a sector that is extremely research-intensive and with low imitation costs. Investors in biotech companies are generally well aware of the centrality of patents. Thus, the survival of such companies may very well depend on their ability to convince investors that they have a solid IP strategy and that risks are reduced to a minimum.