Modified SIPP scheme proves to be a boon for startups

The progress made in the intellectual property (IP) regime during recent decades has been fuelled by the government’s many financial and support incentives, particularly those involving the IP of startups. One such initiative is the Scheme for facilitating Startups Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP), launched in 2016 to promote and safeguard the intellectual property rights of startups and innovators. The scheme focused on creating awareness among startups of the importance of intellectual property as a business asset. It provided new businesses and entrepreneurs with assistance in protecting their patents, trademarks, and designs in India and overseas.

Launched as a pilot expiring at the end of March 2023, the Scheme for SIPP was immediately successful, leading to a significant increase in IP filings. Recently, the scheme was modified and extended for another three years to 31 March 2026.

The objective of the modified scheme is “protecting and promoting Intellectual Property Rights of Startups and thus encouraging innovation and creativity among them and to utilise the services of Technology and Innovation Support Centres (TISC) established in India”. The modifications support this vision by redefining the eligibility of applicants and facilitators, the role of facilitators and establishing facilitation fees.

With regard to the eligibility of applicants, the Scheme for SIPP has been extended to any startup recognised by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT); Indian innovators and creators filing facilitated patent, design and trademark applications through the TISCs; any Indian educational institute eligible under rule 24C(1)(h) of the Patents Rules, 2003, filing an IP application through the TISCs, and any eligible Indian applicant filing an international patent application, domestically or internationally, that elects India as the International Search Authority (ISA).

A facilitator may be any patent agent or trademark agent registered with the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks; any advocate as defined under the Advocates Act, 1961, who is enrolled with the Bar Council of India and engaged in the filing and disposal of trademark applications, or any government department, organisation, agency or central public sector undertaking in the IP sector.

Facilitators are empanelled and regulated by the Controller General, who also has the power to remove a facilitator from the panel following a complaint by a startup or a refusal by the facilitator to provide their services. The core functions of facilitators on a without-fee basis include giving advice on IP rights (IPR); providing information on the protection and promotion of IPRs overseas; assisting at various IP prosecution stages in India and overseas under the Madrid Protocol; assisting in filing international patent applications; drafting provisional and complete patent specifications and ISA patent applications; representing the applicants at hearings; contesting opposition, and ensuring the final disposal of IPR applications.

Fees will be paid directly to facilitators by the government through the Controller General. Applicants have to pay the charges for each patent, trademark, or design application, ISA application under the Patent Co-operation Treaty and Madrid System International Trademark application.

Fees to facilitators will be periodically revised by the DPIIT. Under the modified SIPP scheme, facilitation fees at the time of filing of applications are INR15,000 (USD181) for patents and INR3,000 for trademarks and designs. Fees at the final disposal of applications for patents without opposition are INR25,000 and INR35,000 with opposition. The equivalent final disposal fees for trademarks and designs are INR5,000 and INR10,000.

The new SIPP scheme emphasises that it supports applicants asserting their ownership of IP and prevents the transfer of such IPRs to the facilitator or the government. The modified SIPP significantly advances the government’s efforts in encouraging startups and innovators to realise their full potential and contribute to the country’s economic growth and development. The new SIPP scheme will surely increase the number of IP filings in the country and encourage more innovators and creators by helping them realise the full value of their IP assets.