Our intellectual property rules are in compliance with global rules, says Govt

Turning the tables on the US that has been criticising India for lax intellectual property rules, New Delhi has asked Washington to tighten its own laws to discourage increasing practices of ‘ever greening’ and ‘trolling’ by US drug companies which lead to wrongful profiteering and patent extension.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, during his recent visit to the US, took up the issue of patents misuse by US companies in his meetings with US Trade Representative Michael Froman and US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.

Trolling is a process through which an individual or a company buys a patent, often from a bankrupt company, and threatens to sue other companies manufacturing a product similar to the patented one without itself manufacturing the product.

Ever-greening, on the other hand, is a process through which patent holders try to extend patents beyond its normal life by making minor changes in the product.

“The Minister stressed on the need for the US Government to strengthen patent laws in his meeting with officials. Even the US courts have given verdicts against the process of trolling,” Commerce Secretary S.R. Rao told Business Line.

India also said that it would not make any changes in its intellectual property regime to make it more favourable for patent users as urged by the US because it was in compliance with the global agreement on patents also known as the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

“We said that India is already TRIPS compliant and has no intention of going TRIPS plus,” Rao said.

The US industry has been complaining against India’s decision to grant a compulsory licence to Indian company Natco to manufacture an anti-cancer drug produced by patent holder Bayer as it was priced prohibitively high in the country.

The Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Indian Patent Appellate Board’s rejection of a patent application made by Swiss company Novartis on the ground that it was not a substantial improvement over its older drug for which patent protection had run out also came in for heavy criticism from multinational drug companies.

The US Trade Representative, in its special report on countries with low patent protection, has been consistently placing India in the Priority Watch List.

amiti.sen@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on July 31, 2013)
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