‘India’s IPR policy will drive a new focus on empowering domestic innovators’

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on February 07, 2018

PATRICK KILBRIDE, Vice-President, International, Global Innovation Policy Center at the US Chamber of Commerce YZ

Issues like curbs on patent eligibility, compulsory licensing need to be addressed: Global Innovation Policy Centre’s V-P

Patrick Kilbride, Vice-President, International, Global Innovation Policy Center at the US Chamber of Commerce, said the National IPR Policy should have addressed the concerns of American firms on Section 3 (d) of the Indian Patent Act and the issue of compulsory licensing. On the eve of the launch of its annual IP index, Kilbride told BusinessLine that the IP regime in India is getting better gradually. Last year, India ranked 43rd out of 45 countries in the GIPC index. The index acts a precursor to the US Trade Representative’s Special 301 Report that also lambasts India for having a weak IPR regime. Excerpts:

The sixth edition of International IP index is going to be released, how do you expect India to perform this time?

In its sixth edition, the US Chamber International IP Index will rank 50 major economies on 40 IP-specific indicators. In this latest Index, we see signs that India may be at an inflection point, with recent steps to implement the National IPR Policy driving a new focus on empowering domestic innovators.

What does India need to do to have a better ranking? Have you sensitised the Indian government and industry on the index?

In our conversation with Indian public and private sector stakeholders, the GIPC has stressed that the conditions that enable investment in domestic innovation are the same factors that attract foreign investors, namely respect for property rights and enforcement of the same in a rule of law environment. The IP Index measures legal certainty for those innovators and creators.

What are your main concerns with National IP Policy of India?

In the past, India embraced a legal framework that approached IP as a cost attached to foreign innovation. What's changed with the National IPR Policy is that the government has begun to acknowledge that IP can be an infrastructure that serves domestic innovation. While we don't think it yet goes far enough, the Policy may well mark the moment when India re-oriented for real leadership in the knowledge economy.

Has the National IP Policy been able to address the concerns of US industry, especially with regards to Section 3(d) and Compulsory Licensing in healthcare?

The National IPR Policy made important first steps toward building domestic constituency for IP-led innovation and creativity, especially in areas such as IP awareness building and streamlining of rights registration. We believe it should have gone farther to eliminate unnecessary restrictions on patent eligibility (3 (d)) and to address a long-standing perception of bias in favour of regulatory takings (compulsory licences). Such steps when they do come will be a clear signal that India has come to see innovation more as an opportunity than as cost.

What is India lacking in terms of innovation according to you?

Market psychology influenced by decades of institutionalised disregard for private property rights has left investors unwilling to engage in the levels of risk necessary for innovation on a socially-transformative scale. The challenge for India is to send a clear signal to investors that it is committed to a new approach that actually encourages and rewards risk-taking.

You recently underwent a re-branding exercise and you are now known as Global Innovation Policy Center. Why is that?

GIPC’s re-branding as the Global Innovation Policy Center is intended to encourage an outcomes-focused conversation with policy makers worldwide. Intellectual property rights enable private sector investment in risky creative and innovative activities.

It is our hope that the re-brand helps us put IP in its proper context as a means to ends that we all can embrace. It's an infrastructure for innovation that no country at any level of development can do without.

Does the re-branding help you in conducting deeper analysis of the IP regimes in developing countries like India?

GIPC’s re-brand allows us to speak to policymakers and politicians in terms of the outcomes they seek - more innovative output at home, more investment in innovative sectors, enhanced access to new technology and technological products.

How do you plan to engage with India now in order to build positive rhetoric of its IPR policy?

GIPC believes that India will be a leader in the global knowledge economy. While the trajectory is unmistakeable, the length of that path is yet to be determined.

The current administration has an opportunity to put India on a fast track to innovation-led economic growth. GIPC will continue to be a voice for pro-IP policies that enable Indian success. The entire works will benefit from the resulting Indian innovation and creativity.

Published on February 07, 2018

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