Policy

IPR/patent issues: US calls for stock taking, India says wait

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on March 12, 2015

Washington unhappy with India’s unwillingness to change IP laws

The US has sought a meeting with India to take stock of the progress in the new Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy being drafted by the country.

While the US Government has not yet given inputs on the draft policy for which comments have been invited from all stakeholders, it is not happy about India’s unwillingness to make changes in the IPR law to enhance patent protection, a Government official told BusinessLine.

Despite Washington’s eagerness to resolve the issues through frequent meetings, India has refused to meet US officials immediately on the issue.

“We have informed the US that our officials are right now busy with various domestic engagements including the on-going Parliament session,” the official said.

US President Barack Obama, in his recent India visit, had emphasised the importance of adequate patent protection in India for making it an attractive destination for investors.

Interestingly, US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker cancelled a meeting with Commerce & Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman earlier this week. Pritzker, who was in Islamabad on Tuesday and was to visit New Delhi on Wednesday, skipped her India visit.

“While no official reason was available for the cancellation, she (Pritzker) may have been unhappy because of the slow progress in discussions on IPR,” another official said.

US pharma lobby

The US pharmaceuticals lobby has been pushing for removal of Section 3 (d) of the Indian Patent Act, which prevents “ever-greening’’ of patents by not recognising incremental innovations.

US drug majors also want India to provide for data exclusivity (exclusive rights to data after marketing approval even if a company doesn’t have patent) and patent linkages (the generic producer has to prove that the drug is not protected by a patent) in its patent regime. But, if patent legislation is not changed, most of these proposals can be ruled out.

“There is no proposal to amend patent law. There is no proposal to do anything with Indian Patent Act,” Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently informed Rajya Sabha.

The new IPR policy being drafted has not proposed any change in legislation. It seeks to put in place measures to encourage and facilitate the effective creation, protection, management and commercialisation of IP for accelerating overall development and enhancing competitiveness.

US Trade Representative Michael Froman, in a written statement to the Senate Committee on Finance in January, had stated that India had given commitments to the US on a broad range of IP issues of concern to the US and its stakeholders at the 2014 Trade Policy Forum meeting. Neither the US nor India have elaborated on what those commitments were.

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Published on March 12, 2015
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