The Intellectual Properties of any business entity are emerging as one of the greatest tools in the direction of strategically establishing itself on a competitive platform with the other units. With the Prime Minister's initiative of "Make in India" and increasing inclination towards the industrial sector by the majority of the youth, the number of Start-ups have been increasing considerably. As an initiative to encourage and facilitate such start–ups and newly launched ventures in India, the Government of India has initiated "The Scheme for Facilitating Start-ups Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP). This Scheme provides assistance to the Start-ups in various steps from filing till registration of Intellectual Properties like Trademarks, Patents and Designs.
"The Scheme of SIPP aims to promote awareness and adoption of Intellectual Property Rights amongst Start-Ups. Scheme is inclined to nurture and mentor innovative and emerging technologies among Start-ups and assist them in protecting and commercializing Intellectual Property Rights by providing them access to high-quality IP services and resources."1
The Scheme has been introduced as a Pilot and will be applicable for a period of 1 year. Under the Scheme, the government or the Facilitators as appointed by the government will not be entitled to claim any kind of ownership rights on the Intellectual Property of the Start-up and all the properties registered by them under this Scheme would be the exclusive property of the Startup alone and no one else. The funds under the Scheme would be provided by the funds available with the Department.
Eligibility criteria for getting benefitted under the SIPP
As the Scheme is aimed at benefitting the Startups and encouraging them to come up with new and creative ideas, the SIPP imposes an exclusive list of criteria which are to be qualified by an entity to gain advantage under this Scheme. The criteria for being considered as a Start-up under the SIPP are as mentioned below-
- The Start-up must be registered under the Start-up Certification Board as having an innovative business.
- The Start- up must not be incorporated or registered before a period of 5 years.
- The turn over of the Start-up must not have exceeded an amount of Rs. 25 crores in the preceding years.
- The Start-up must be working towards innovation, development, deployment or commercialization of new products, processes or services driven by technology or Intellectual Property.2
Further, apart form the above mentioned criteria, the SIPP also imposes certain restrictions and narrows the ambit of an entity to be considered as a Start-up. Those restrictions are as mentioned below-
- The entity must not have come into existence after getting segregated or reconstructed from an existing entity.
- The entity will cease to be considered as a Start-up if its turn over exceeds the amount of Rs. 25 crores.
- The entity will cease to be considered as a Start-up if the date of its incorporation or registration exceeds a time period of 5 years.
- The Start-up can avail benefits under the SIPP only after it gets registered under the Start-up registration Board.
Appointment and Functions of the Facilitators –
For the purpose of facilitating the Start-ups and giving them assistance while getting their Intellectual Property registered in India, the Controller General of Patents, Design and Trademarks (CGPDTM) also appoints a panel of Facilitators. The panel shall contain Advocates (who qualify all the criteria of being an advocate implemented by the Advocates Act, 1961 and Bar Council of India and who are wellversed with the provisions of the relevant Acts and Rules, and are actively involved in filing and disposal of applications for Patents, Trademarks and Designs), Patent Agents (registered with the CGPDTM), Trademark Agents (registered with the CGPDTM), Government Bodies like NRDC (National Rural Development Cooperation), DEITY (Department of Electronics & Information Technology) etc.
The Facilitators would perform the below mentioned functions-
- Providing general and basic advice to the Start-ups with respect to different Intellectual Properties.
- Providing information regarding protecting and promoting IPRs in different countries.
- Providing assistance and guidance in filing the applications for registration of Intellectual Properties like Trademarks, Patents and Designs and disposal of the same at the Indian Offices under the CGPDTM.
- Drafting Specifications, Claims, response to Examination Reports/Queries etc.
- Attending hearing on behalf of Start-ups.
- Contesting third-party Oppositions.
- Ensuring disposal of the IPR applications.
The Facilitators are not allowed to charge anything from the Start-ups for the services provided by them. Further, the Facilitators will be provided with a fixed amount of fee by the Central Government and it will not be entitled to charge any amount apart from that to the Entrepreneur. An exclusive table of fees applicable per application has been provided in the SIPP.3
The Scheme is an appreciable and potentially effective step in the direction of providing guidance and a platform to prosper to the Startups. The idea of providing legal assistance is not alien to Indian Laws and it is even enshrined in the Constitution itself. As per the DPSP (Directive Principles of State Policy), the State is required to ensure that no one is deprived of legal assistance because of poverty or a social status and then only complete justice could be delivered. In today's era where the new entrepreneurs and Start-ups are creating history and entities like Facebook, Twitter globally and Paytm, Ola, Freecharge, Housing etc. in Indian market have emerged with innovation at its best and have also received huge acceptance and applaud from the customers at large. Keeping in view the level of success attained by these entities, such an encouraging and enthusiastic Scheme was the dire need of the day. The success and life of the Scheme will now depend on its effective implementation and working mechanism.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.