Friday, June 9, 2017

VKIC’s initiative on Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual property (IP), a product of human intellect, includes writings, designs, inventions, symbols, names, songs etc. IP allows the creator or owner to enjoy benefits of his or her creation. Protections under the IP regime allow the inventors to exclude others from using, dealing or tampering with his or her product without prior permission.

The NER comprising eight North Eastern States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura is a great treasure trove of diverse cultures, social practices, and languages. The traditional methods practiced by the locals for preservation of food, preparation of medicines and a sustainable use of the available resources is a great source of knowledge. The knowledge and diverse practices of the communities is a fit subject for protection under the domain of Intellectual Property.

For VKIC, the research institute that works with the moto of strengthening the indigenous communities of NE, Intellectual Property is of much significance and relevance. This year, few members from the core team of IPR went to Diphu, Karbi Anglong for an IPR sensitization programme with the locals. It was realized that Karbi Anglong, with its rich natural resources, traditional knowledge and practices is facing the threat of bio-piracy and misappropriation.

Presently a study on the designs used by the Karbi people in their traditional attire and the scope of protecting Jambili Athon (the most significant design used by them) under the domain of Geographical Indication or GI (one of the areas of IP) is being carried on. The grassroots level contacts which are being made are vital elements in awareness generation among communities who need to know the basics of IPR and related issues.

Initial surveys by VKIC point towards an emerging situation in which a number of communities having unique traditional designs, practices and methods are totally ignorant about IPR and the benefits its use can bring them. It is now time that the State's authorities concerned, as well as others cognizant of the issue make efforts to inform, educate and communicate with community elders in vulnerable areas. Better synergy among multiple state and non-state agencies would make this endeavour more fruitful.  

In the context of VKIC's IPR activities Minakshi Goswami of VKIC attended the International Earth Science Conference (IESC) in University of Science and Technology, Meghalaya and presented a paper titled Sharing Secrets: A study on the challenges to traditional knowledge protection. Goswami, a Research Fellow of VKIC also participated in a workshop-cum-training on Patent Search and Analysis organized by Tezpur University Intellectual Property Rights Cell. On both the occasions VKIC's initiatives on IPR were shared among the participants.  

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