‘Section 3(d) of Indian Patents Act stifles innovation’

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 17, 2018

KALPANA REDDY, Senior Director, Global Intellectual Property Center,US Chamber of Commerce

National IPR Policy falls short on specifics, says GIPC’s Kalpana Reddy

Kalpana Reddy, Senior Director, Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) at the US Chamber of Commerce, believes the controversial Section 3 (d) of the Indian Patents Act has to be done away eventually as it is not beneficial for India. Reddy, who particularly focuses on promoting IPR in India, said the National IPR Policy needs further improvement. Excerpts from an interview:

What is your view on the new National IPR Policy?

There are some positive aspects of the policy, which over time will benefit American industries, but we did not see the types of reforms that we feel are necessary to really to drive the innovation that India needs. In terms of the longstanding issues, there were not addressed in the policy. I think there is scope for discussion. There is still a lot more that has to be done.

So what is it that you are specifically looking for when you say more needs to be done?

I think where the policy falls short is lack of specifics. There is a broad and general recommendation but no sense of how it can be accomplished. US industry views this in a way that there is lot of rhetoric but there is very little in terms of deliverables. And there is a sense that there are some good recommendations but seeing them through is going to be the real test.

Have you given this feedback to the Indian government during this visit?

We participated in the entire process from the time that draft policy was made. But many of the recommendations we made were not reflected in the policy. There is a need for legislative reform. We think innovation is held back because of certain restrictions in the patent law. We think certainly the IP enforcement could be improved if there is improvement in copyright and trademark law. So a legislative change is required.

Has the policy been able to address GIPC’s concern on compulsory licensing?

The formal position of the government has not changed even with the formulation of the policy. We don’t expect India to make a change. Under TRIPS also, compulsory licences should be used in extreme circumstances. They are not supposed to be common, but are supposed to be used as the last resort. There could have been other alternative without undermining the intellectual property rights. Companies make significant investments to build technologies. They want to ensure that these investments remain secure. So, nobody is saying India cannot issue compulsory licence. It is the reasons behind that. So we don’t expect the policy to say that India will not issue compulsory licenses. But I think industry would be more confident if there is transparency in the system because the threat of compulsory licensing is always there. 

What about section 3(d) of the Patent Act?

Section 3(d) is an issue and it has to go. It will take time. But we have to continue our dialogue and make the case on why the 3(d) is not in India’s long-term interest. It is basically stifling innovation. So these are some of the things we want to see progress on. We want things to now move a little quicker than they already have. So right now we have some sort of a cautious optimism. 

India has been ranking the lowest in the GIPC Index every year. Do you see this improving now with the release of the policy?

Rankings probably will improve in two-three years from now when people start taking IP seriously. India needs to fill in the gaps that the index has identified. In this year’s report we have looked at the patentability issues, which affect the pharmaceutical and ICT sectors. The score will move upwards if India's introduces the trade secrets law. Next year you might not see a jump in the score considering that the policy came out in May. 

Published on July 14, 2016

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