The rise of the pandemic situation has bought many changes in the current legal system. No wonder the entire world is stuck in these unprecedented crises, coping with coming out of all the damage done- financially, economically, mentally, and physically. Off late, we hear the scream of two popular but not so popular words – Corona and Lockdown everywhere.  These two have become an inseparable part of our lives. The worst to be said, the entire world was declared to be under global health threat, and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been felt worldwide. 

Rising counts of active cases, death rates reaching the sky, and no vaccine introduced until then, there was an unidentifiable chaos situation. Nevertheless, TIME WAITS FOR NONE, the Indian legal system, especially the IPR Sector, witnessed many changes and amendments from registration to defense mechanism.

Statistics from various sources have revealed that many people have applied for a trademark, copyright, and design protection even since the pandemic broke out. The Discovery of vaccines to treat Covid-19 disease and issues to its patentability is a rising issue, and to our surprise, the Governments of concerned States were left in a fix still contemplating on deciding the patentability of these vaccines.

Impact of IPR TRENDS:

  • The downfall of the global economy: The entire world economy has witnessed negative growth trends. According to the economist, such trends might prevail for the next year.

  • Economic slowdown:  The impact of economic slowdown and collapse is being felt globally, not leaving behind the Patent and trademark registry offices, law firms, and research centers. Work from Home is being encouraged almost at all possible avenues. However, legal jobs have been greatly affected as the nature of the job hardly supports remote work.

  • IP Protection handicapped: Due to the Global Crisis, the funding has become a big question mark, leaving less room for developing innovations and getting them patented. However, there has been quite a good amount of trademark, copyright, and design registrations.

  • Single point focus: Currently, the one-point research plan is "developing a cure or vaccine for COVID-19". All the researchers and research-based organizations are single-handedly focused on COVID-19's cure. Thus, affecting all other research and development processes. Other ongoing researches have either slowed down or have been put at a halt.

  • IP to enter the Era of electronic mode: Considering the uncertainty of the situation, unpredictability of introducing vaccines, IP firms across the globe have encouraged remote working guidelines. Physical filings and hearing have all been suspended (till further notice) or have moved to an online platform.

  • Courts closed. The urgency of matters to be defined: pandemic had led to the closure of courts for a very long-time, and the normal functioning of courts is yet to be decided. Therefore, to avoid delay in delivering justice, remote hearings were encouraged after deciding the matter's degree of urgency. If not urgent, the matters are postponed until further notified.

Changes witnessed by IPR Sector over the last few months:

Improved Global Co-ordination:

Covid-19 has bought the world together. Countries have signed an open covid-19 pledge according to which countries assure researchers the required technology and research materials required to develop treatment and cures for covid-19.  They have agreed to share their machines and technology to mass-produce masks, syringes, ventilators, and other required surgical appliances.

Government facilitated voluntary licensing:

The nature and scope of collaborations are certainly more flexible and open. Instead of claiming a compulsory license, the Government has decided to come into voluntary negotiation arrangements with patentees to share its innovations to treat the disease. This will efficiently harmonize technology and royalty payouts.

Relaxed Indian Laws on Dissemination of Technology:

Fortunately, Indian Patent Laws have been very clear and relaxed on licensing matters. In case of national or public health emergencies, the Government reserves the right to take over and use any patent that can be used to cure the country's health hazard as per Section 100 and 102 of the Indian Patent Act, 1970.

Patent pooling encouraged:

Patent Pooling is a basic agreement between patent owners who decide to use each other's patents in their inventions. The agreement members form a consortium to facilitate the exchange of patents, hence avoiding the difficulties of licensing and assignments. 

To make the vaccines available in all countries, there will be practical difficulties in obtaining permission from every country and mass production problems. In such cases, patent pooling will be highly encouraged and will prove one of the most viable options.

Process of filings redefined:

The filings' traditional process has strictly made to be done in electronic mode to maintain social distancing and safety assuredness. However, after the relaxation of lockdown, manual filings have been started, yet not recommended.

Shift to videoconferencing hearings: 

Remote works have been encouraged, and so have remote hearings too. If the matters are of trivial importance, the applicants must contact the controller's office and establish urgency to get the hearings fixed up.

Less role of limitation: 

Limitations, timelines, and deadlines in filing the application, opposition, and other related documents have been relaxed to benefit the applicants and their attorneys.