The coronaviruses that registered their first presence on the planet more than 50 years ago, recently became the hot topic of every conversation when the 7th known coronavirus, popularly known as Covid-19, took the entire world under its blanket and since then, every passing day adds to the horror of it as the tally of worldwide infected people increases with little to no promise of the development of a successful vaccine the next day. Covid-19 has brought an economical, health, financial as well as asocial crisis on every continent, country, state that none of them was prepared for and the only known counter-action to the governments, the “Lockdown,” has been cataclysmic for every business sector, from agriculture to IT, leaving them counting the costs. Although the world of intellectual property has successfully avoided a complete halt, the innovational pool has not been completely immune to the pandemic.
Covid-19 and Intellectual property: The after-effects
As stated above, the IP sector has so far managed to maintain the curve amidst the pandemic, but prolonged existence of the outbreak can nudge the IP and legal services domain to plummet as companies holding big IP portfolios are among the ones greatly affected by the virus and as a counter-act to tackle the declining economy, have started cost-cutting by minimizing the expenditure on maintenance of patents as well as prosecution. To further mitigate the expenditure, IP holders are even considering reducing the research costs as well as abandoning the holding of patents or the acquisition of new IP ideas.
Another after-effect of the pandemic can be an alarming reduction in the number of PCT applications filing as companies would refrain from spending extra bucks on patenting their innovation in every nation and would cleverly limit their filings to selective countries depending on their interests.
Further, the pandemic has affected the working of every patent and Trademark office from worldwide administrators like WIPO to every national PTO office.
The counterattack by IPO
As the virus continues to spread to more and more countries, IP offices throughout the world are taking countermeasures depending on their local landscape, to counter the effect of the pandemic on their working, operation procedures as well as the IP service practitioners. The Indian Patent and Trademark Office (IPO) along with other major PTOs like the European Patent Office (EPO), United Kingdom, and USPTO took the approach of extending the deadlines.
The Supreme court on March 23, took Suo Motucognizance over the concerns raised by the pandemic to debar them while keeping in mind the Social distancing norms issued by the Central Government and following that IPO has issued several notices to ensure the smooth dealing of IP related concerns.
Stimulating the Innovation curve amidst the pandemic
As the pandemic progresses towards more critical stages, the Indian IP office is expected to introduce policies to counter the impact and to provide relief as well as a ray of hope amidst the darkness to the IP holding companies and practitioners. Also, IP owners, holders, professionals, and practitioners are advised to manage their IP portfolio assiduously to identify and differentiate between their performing and non-performing assets and devise clever strategies to gain an upper foot in the post-pandemic environment. Further, it is important to seize and secure any essential IP concerning mass manufacturing of Crisis Critical (CC) Products.
Further, the likelihood of a surge in the growth of the intellectual property domain Post-COVID cannot be ignored as it will certainly push tech companies to go after incentivization of their portfolio via the licensing of their existing IP to refill their financial reserves.
To conclude, it can be said that the current scenario poses the potential threat of a downfall in the domain, but the perennial introduction of countermeasures by IPO as well as holding on to and investing in critical IP assets by the IP holders can prove as a potential opportunity of growth of the domain in the post-pandemic world.
The article is contributed by Mr Amit Aggarwal , Co-Founder and Director of Effectual Services- an Advisory firm that offers IP support solutions to Fortune 500 companies. He has been individually recognized to be among the world’s leading IP strategists by IAM in 2018.