Protecting intellectual property rights pays off for everyone in a country.
Countries with robust IP frameworks are knowledge powerhouses that aspire to be the most powerful economies in the world. The US Chamber of Commerce, has been publishing the International Intellectual Property Index (IIP) since 2012 to rank countries based on their framework of IP protections. This year’s report ranks 53 countries based on 50 indicators spanning nine categories of protection.
The top five countries were the US (47.64), the UK (46.96), France (45.75), Germany (45.54) and Sweden (45.28). Peru (23.06) posted the greatest score improvement among Latin American countries, while Vietnam (18.31) rose to the top of the Asian economies.
The worst-rated countries were Kuwait (14.01), Nigeria (13.81), Pakistan (13.25), Algeria (12.03) and Venezuela (7.11).
India’s score improved from 16.22 to 19.23, yet its rank slipped four places, from 36th to 40th position. India still lags in understanding IP as a competitive issue, says Vineet Sharma, patent agent at Talwar Advocates, a firm specializing in intellectual-property protection. “The people are not aware of the importance of IP and so sometimes they hesitate to spend money on it,” he says. “It is not like the usual investment; it protects your innovations and gives you a sense of confidence to enter the market.”
Progress is happening, if slowly. India performed dismally on the IIP index from 2012 to 2018 before jumping eight spots to 36th position in 2019. The boost in performance was mainly due to new IP legislation implemented by the Modi government and improvement its manufacturing sector.
“The central government has made consistent efforts to create awareness about IP and to encourage innovations,” says Sharma. “The government has also provided subsidies in filing fees for micro, small, and medium-size enterprises and startups. Recently, the government has started a monetary grant for companies if their patents are granted.”
Stricter IP protections for pharmaceutical and computer-related innovations would be a major confidence builder, particularly for foreign investors, he argues. “Intellectual property is important for every country, to provide space for innovation, research and development and technology upgradation. It provides exclusive rights for innovations, hindering others from duplicating or copying them.”