India improvement on IP Index has health representatives concerned

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on February 05, 2020 Published on February 05, 2020

India has made significant progress in protecting intellectual property (IP), but the “job is not yet done,” said the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC), following the release of its latest International IP Index.

The Index ranked India at 40 of the 53 global economies, where it was evaluated on issues, from patent and copyright policies to the commercialization of IP assets and ratification of international treaties.

Coming ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to India later this month, the US Chamber’s report is being watched closely by pro-health groups. Especially since IP has its ramifications on, among other things, health and access to medicine.

Certain provisions in the amended Indian Patents Act (2005) have been sparring points between the two countries.

For example, the Act’s Section 3 (d) that disallowed patent protection on incremental changes on a known substance unless it proved greater efficacy. And the use of compulsory licensing where a third party is allowed to make an innovative drug at a reduced price in the interest of public health.

On the findings of its eight IP Index report released on Wednesday, the GIPC said, “India continues to be a promising yet challenging market for technologically cutting-edge, IP-intensive industries. Serious hurdles remain, particularly in the areas of patent eligibility and enforcement.”

On what worked, it added, “implementation of the (National IP Rights) Policy has improved the speed of processing for patent and trademark applications, increased awareness of IP rights among Indian innovators and creators, and provided new regulatory tools to facilitate the registration and enforcement of those rights.”

Patrick Kilbride, Senior Vice President for the GIPC at the US Chamber of Commerce said that India’s sustained progress on the IP Index reflected a sustained effort by Indian Prime Minister Modi’s administration to capitalize on India’s immense potential for innovation and creativity. “As the US and India look to conclude a trade deal in the coming weeks, we hope that it will pave the way for innovation-focused partnerships between the US and India, two of the world’s key democratic,” he added.

“IPR protection is a good news story for India,” added US-India Business Council President Nisha Biswal, in a statement on the report. “The Modi administration has largely centralized IPR policy and enforcement, providing the resources needed to improve transparency and consumer awareness.”

Pointing out that many of India’s ambitious reforms had been captured in earlier reports, the GIPC said, “That momentum continues this year, albeit at a slower pace, with the eighth edition indicating an improvement of nearly 7 percent in India’s score.” In the last two years, India had made “larger overall advances” in its rankings than any other country, it said. This year, US and European economies topped the global IP rankings, while many emerging markets also showed big improvements due to commitments to adopt pro-IP measures, the note said.

IP expert KM Gopakumar pointed out that an improvement in rank for a country on the IP Index meant that there was a serious impact on public interest and health. Indian authorities should not pay attention to the study as it is arbitrary, he said, adding that the report suggested a warming up to India since the Trump visit is around the corner.

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Published on February 05, 2020
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