‘Respect for intellectual property rights leads to innovation, investment’

Aesha Datta | Updated on April 30, 2014

JASPER MACSLARROW,Executive Director,US Chamber of Commerce’s GlobalIntellectual Property Center

Need to see how India can improve its IP system: US trade chamber official

India’s battle for preserving human rights in terms of ensuring proper medical care to needy patients at affordable rates has landed it in an intellectual property rights (IPR) war on global scale.

However, Jasper MacSlarrow, Executive Director, US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center, believes that the interests of companies, which innovate at great cost and effort, need to be protected first.

MacSlarrow told Business Line that the IP system aims to cultivate an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish. Edited excerpts:

The debate between IPR and affordable healthcare and technology has been a long one. Is there any way of balancing the needs of both sides?

By striking the right balance between the interests of innovators and wider public interest, the IP system aims to foster an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish. IP is a critical driver of trade, jobs, competitiveness and investment and growth of a country, thereby ensuring better standards of living and general wellbeing. Economic experts have repeatedly demonstrated that respect for IP leads to greater innovation and investment. So, the debate over India’s intellectual property environment is not about whether or not they should improve their system, rather how to do so.

The US is threatening action against India for failing to protect IP rights, especially in pharmaceuticals. Your comments.

I would like to refer to the GIPC International IP Index here. The Chamber released earlier this year the second edition of the Index, which maps the IP environment in 25 countries, using 30 indicators. Both the inaugural report, which was produced in 2012 and the 2014 edition found that India ranked last overall, behind Brazil, Russia, and well below China, on most indicators. In no sector is innovation more important than in the field of medicines, where bringing a single life-saving treatment to the market requires on average about $1.3 billion in investment and 10-15 years of research and development.

In the absence of IP rights, millions of people suffering around the world and in India won’t have access to cures because the capacity to pursue this kind of research will be disrupted.

One line of debate says IP system and patenting in today’s open-source world is hampering growth and innovation. Your comments.

IP is a critical driver of trade, jobs, competitiveness, investment and overall economic growth. Robust IP systems lead to strengthening foreign direct investment and incentivising a creative and innovative economy, thereby producing more jobs, providing better access to innovative and creative products, and pumping capital into the economy.

Within creative endeavours, what are the principle threats to IPR?

India has an extensive copyright industry, producing more feature films than any other country. However, the Government’s copyright legislation fails to adequately protect Indian and international creators and innovators. While the Indian Government passed a copyright legislation last year, it contains many deficiencies.

In the entertainment industry, how easy or difficult is it to ensure copyright or trademark protection?

The entertainment industry continues to face challenges relating to piracy in India. The revised copyright legislation fails to provide adequate and effective protection to prevent unauthorised copying of movies in theatres and disc piracy. India is among the top 10 countries in the world known for Internet piracy. According to a study released by the Motion Picture Distributor’s Association, pirated films out of India appear on the Internet in an average of 3.15 days. Camcording continues to be a serious problem, with India accounting for 53 per cent of all forensic matches in the Asia Pacific in 2012.

How do you see platforms such as Youtube or free e-book sites online, which often lead to copyright violations but also provide a lot of exposure to artistes?

Artists, musicians are entitled the right to share their work however they see fit.

But, the sale and distribution of pirated content could result in immense financial loss for the artistes.

Published on April 30, 2014

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