India to sort out IPR issues with US

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on October 15, 2021

At a meet to be held later this month, New Delhi to highlight problems in the US including high filing cost, online piracy

Senior officials from India and the US will review the intellectual property rights (IPR) regime in the two countries at a working group meeting on IP scheduled later this month in the shadow of India being placed yet again in the US Trade Representative’s ‘priority watch list’ for alleged lack of adequate IP protection and enforcement.

“India will not only point out the recent steps taken to improve the IP climate to argue against its inclusion in the ‘priority watch list’ of the latest 2021 Special 301 report, but also highlight areas of concern for Indian industry in the US such as high costs of patent filing, online piracy and unfavourable enforcement of Industrial Design,” an official tracking the matter told BusinessLine.

First intensive consultations

This will be one of the first intensive consultations between India and the US on IP, as part of the India-US Trade Policy Forum, after the Biden administration officially took charge.

The Department of Policy for Investment and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has circulated a proforma to the Indian industry seeking inputs for the meeting tentatively scheduled towards the end of October.

‘Good opportunity’

“This will be a good opportunity for us to raise concerns and difficulties being faced by domestic stakeholders and place their interest before the US,” per a communication sent out by the DPIIT to stakeholders. A deadline of October 20 has been provided for the inputs.

“Sections of the Indian industry, such as auto component manufacturers, have been facing problems in the US in the area of industrial design as at times they are charged with violations of IP for designs that they believe are their own,” pointed out Biswajit Dhar, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru Univeristy.

These companies often face problems proving their innocence, leading to a lot of hassles and loss of business. This could be one issue that may need some sorting out, Dhar said.

Other areas pointed out by industry bodies include the “prohibitive” cost of applying for patents in the US with no concessions for the MSME sector and delay in the issuance of trademark examination report.

The Indian industry also want an improved system for raising objections in case of appropriation of Indian Traditional Knowledge and Geographic Indications by non-Indian entities and better bilateral co-operation to address piracy concerns that hurt the Indian creative industry.

Dhar said that the US should not have continued problems with India’s IPR laws as the Biden government already said in the Special 301 Report for 2021 that the US respected the rights of its trade partners to issue compulsory licences to promote access to medicines. Moreover, despite not doing away with Section 3(d) of the Indian Patent Act that restricts grant of patent for “incremental innovations”, as demanded by the US and the EU, New Delhi has been granting patents for formulations and combinations.

“The US should not have problems related to Section 3(d) as India has not been rigid about granting patents only to new molecules but has been approving patents for formulations and combinations,” Dhar said.

According to the DPIIT, India’s recent achievements in improving the IPR regime include granting fee concessions to startups and small entities and making IPR filing procedures more compact, time-bound, user-friendly and compatible for e-transactions.

Published on October 15, 2021

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