Scientists give thumbs down to new patent bill

Wednesday, 27 January 2010, 12:02 Hrs   |    23 Comments
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Scientists give thumbs down to new patent bill
Bangalore: A proposed law that makes it compulsory to patent all new innovations developed by government-funded research is facing criticisms from several scientists employed in government aided research institutes and labs in India. The bill is called the Protection and Utilization of Public Funded Intellectual Property Bill 2008 and is before a standing committee of parliament after being introduced in the Rajya Sabha, reports Rema Nagarajan of Times of India. The aim of the bill is to spur more innovations in the research institutes, improve understanding about intellectual property and guarantee access to innovation by all stakeholders and it also promises more financial support for innovations. However, scientists are not happy with this bill and describe it as "useless, poorly drafted, burdensome, potentially coercible, most abusable piece of legislation." The scientists also allege that in the bill, public interest seems to be greatly compromised. Moreover, the bill has none of the safeguards for public health interest and no clause to allow government oversight on pricing of products resulting from public-funded research. Scientists also point out that patenting is an expensive process and since every IP is not worth patenting, patents are best thought through carefully before filing. "The bill says every researcher has to inform that IP has been generated within a specific time. How does one decide what is IP? So, the inventor forwards everything to the institution's IP committee to decide what is potential IP. The committee forwards it to the government to take a decision on whether to file for IP or not. This will involve monumental amounts of paper work. From every lab in the country, a notebook could go everyday, full of potential IP," Satyajit Rath of the National Institute of Immunology told to Times of India, adding that it could only lead to selective harassment of institutions and researchers.