Absence of strong IPR regime will tell on services sector

Our Bureau

Chennai, May 4

US companies may be excited about opportunities in India, but "capital is a coward and is less likely to go to places of uncertainty." Lack of strong intellectual property regime contributes to uncertainty, said Mr David T. Hopper, US Consul-General in Chennai.

Addressing an Indo-US seminar and workshop on IPR (intellectual property rights) enforcement here today, he said that bilateral negotiations will be central to promoting intellectual property rights protection globally.

In the absence of strong IPR protection the services sector would be affected.

need Co-ordinated action

This sector contributes to half of India's GDP and is also a big contributor to the US economy. Co-ordinated action was needed among officials in various departments such as Customs, courts and the police. There is need to be aware that `to copy is to steal,' Mr Hopper said.

Addressing the three-day seminar organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the US Embassy, representatives from the automobile and software industries said that fighting piracy is not just about protecting revenues of big industries, it is a social evil. Governments lose revenue, money that could have been spent on social development, employment generation is affected and spurious goods have a major impact of human health and safety.

Ms Rebecca DuBose Ward, Director, Intellectual Property & Licensing, Microsoft India (R&D) Pvt Ltd, said that a 10 per cent decrease in piracy globally represents a $67 billion in new tax revenues, enough to provide healthcare to 45 million people, put 6.6 million people through college, provide computers to 35 million school children or give job training to 435 million people.

Improve enforcement

In India, pirated software business is estimated at about $239 billion and a 10 per cent drop could mean IT sector grows to $19.4 billion from $7.4 billion now, add 115,000 jobs and generate $ 386 million in tax revenue.

India has good intellectual property laws but the enforcement is not effective. The police and customs authorities should look at piracy as a crime against society, Ms Ward said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 5, 2006)
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