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Addressing a virtual gathering of entrepreneurs held to celebrate the inaugural National Startup Day (January 16), Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed startups as the “backbone“ of new India and the engine that will power the nation’s economic growth in the run up to the 100th year of Independence. As innovation and inventiveness is key for startups, the government has rolled out a string of measures to foster the grant of IPR protection to startups.

Need of strong IPR protection for Startups

  • Protecting innovative and new ideas that give startups a competitive edge;
  • Developing intangible assets for increasing the value of the startup as well as the marketed products/processes;
  • Delivering enthusiasm to investors, clients, and other stakeholders by brand-making;
  • Ensuring that no conflict occurs between the founders and promoters with respect to the licensing, merchandize and other IP rights.

In line with the various government decisions taken in recent times to harmonize the emergence and sustenance of the startup-culture in India, the Scheme for Startups Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP) was launched by the government to facilitate protection of Patents, Trademark and Designs of innovative and interested Startups. Initially being run on a pilot basis, the scheme was in force up to 2020. However, the scheme has been extended further for a period of three years till 31st March 2023.

Scheme for Startups Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP)

The SIPP scheme aims to promote IP awareness and adoption of IPR protection amongst Startups by nurturing and mentoring innovative and emerging technologies by assisting them in protecting and commercializing it through high-quality IP services and resources.The scheme facilitates the start-ups to file applications for patents, designs and trademarks through registered facilitators in appropriate IP offices by paying only the statutory fees.

Any startup recognised by DPIIT is eligible to avail the benefit of this scheme without requiring to further obtain an Inter-Ministerial Board of Certification. However, startups will be required to give a self-declaration that they have not availed funds under any other Government scheme for the purpose of paying the facilitator/patent agent/trademark agent for filing and prosecuting their IP application.

Fig. Criteria for start-up recognition by DPIIT

The primary objective of the scheme is to reduce the cost and time taken for a startup to acquire a patent, making it financially viable for them to protect their innovations and encouraging them to innovate further.

Benefits of the SIPP scheme

  • Fast-tracking Startup Patent Applications: Patent applications filed by startups are fast-tracked for examination so that their value can be realised sooner.
  • Panel of facilitators to assist in filing of IP applications: For effective implementation of the scheme, a panel of “facilitators” is empanelled by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (CGPDTM). The facilitators are responsible for providing general advisory on different intellectual property as well as information on protecting and promoting intellectual property in other countries.
  • Government to bear facilitation cost: Under this scheme, the Central Government bears the entire fees of the facilitators for any number of patents, trademarks or designs that a Startup may file, and the Startups shall bear the cost of only the statutory fees payable.
  • Rebate on filing of application: Startups are provided an 80% rebate in filing of patents vis-a-vis other companies.

Functions and responsibilities of the Facilitators

  • Providing general advisory on different intellectual property rights to Startups on pro bono basis,
  • Providing information on protecting and promoting IPRs to Startups in other countries on pro bono basis,
  • Providing assistance in filing and disposal of the IP applications related to patents, trademarks and design under relevant Acts at the national IP offices under the CGPDTM,
  • Drafting provisional and complete patent specifications for inventions of Startups,
  • Preparing and filing responses to examination reports and other queries, notices or letters by the IP office,
  • Appearing on behalf of startup at hearings, as may be scheduled,
  • Contesting opposition, if any, by other parties, and
  • Ensuring final disposal of the IPR application.

However, the scheme is not intended to transfer either wholly or partially by the startup, its ownership rights for the IPR created to the facilitator or the Government, and the Start-Up shall have full rights on the IP generated. Moreover, if an application is withdrawn or abandoned before disposal of application, the facilitator shall be entitled to fees only for filing of the application and not for the disposal of the application.