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Protection of IPR a must, says expert

By Ajit Patowary

GUWAHATI, July 11 - The Act East Policy of the Government of India has made the issues regarding protection of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) of the North East region more serious. These issues need to be addressed urgently and not overlooked any more.

This was the observation made by noted IPR expert Sailaja Devaguptapu, who is currently associated with the Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture (VKIC) to analyse the IP potential of North East India. She was talking to this correspondent here this morning.

She emphasized the need to generate awareness among the people in general and particularly among those of the NE region on the urgency of developing IP culture. Generating popular awareness on IP culture is one of the objectives of the current VKIC initiative, she said.

The old saying � �Ignorance is bliss� � has now become invalid in the field of IPR. It is high time to identify and register various types of potential IP of the NE region. This should be done at the earliest considering the strategic location of the region and its links with South East Asia. If the Government intervenes, the process of identification and registration of the NE IPs could be handled in a much better way, she observed.

The NE has huge potential for geographical indication (GI) for its unique natural as well as man-made products. It has also been observed that the region being a biodiversity hotspot is subjected to biopiracy.

Biopiracy of the indigenous NE species has attained such a level that some indigenous plants have become almost extinct and have now come under the endangered species category. If not addressed with seriousness and urgency, conservation of these species would be impossible.

For example, the Kiwi fruits, which come mostly from New Zealand, are believed to be an indigenous fruit of Arunachal Pradesh, she said, making a reference to the Arunachal Pradesh Director of Horticulture.

Folklores, handicrafts and some other natural and manufactured products unique to this region can be protected through GI. Through field survey and research, traditional knowledge of the NE region can be made known to the people the world over as originating and belonging to this part of the globe.

The region�s researchers also need to be sensitised on IP generation and protection. If their inventions meet the patent criteria, they could be protected through patents. Patents are one of the most lucrative IPR nowadays, said Devaguptapu.

The other aspects of IPR include trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, etc, on which people of the NE region need to be sensitised.

Handling biopiracy is another area of concern. Biopiracy subjects the communities to exploitation by the people of the neighbouring countries with vested interests, she said.

In reply to a question, she said the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), along with the Department of Ayush, is translating Indian traditional knowledge into international languages through their traditional knowledge digital library. It addresses the issue of misuse of Indian traditional knowledge.

Devaguptapu, who served the Indian Institute of Patent and Trademark Education and Research, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Maxval and the TMP Searches in various capacities related with patent analysis, etc, also addressed a public meeting this evening at the Uzanbazar VKIC auditorium on IPR in the backdrop of development through culture.

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