India again on US IPR priority watch list; Govt disappointed, but not worried

Source : The Hindu, 1 May, 2015

India is disappointed at being featured yet again in the US Priority Watch List of weak IPR countries. But it is not worried.

A senior Commerce & Industry Ministry official told BusinessLine that the country’s IPR legislations are well in line with the requirements underlined in the World Trade Organization’s TRIPS Agreement.

The US has once again placed India on the ‘Priority Watch List’ of countries with an unfavourable Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) regime.

Nudging India to tighten its IPR rules, the Special 301 report for 2015, released by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on Thursday, expressed hope that the new channels of engagement created in the past year with India will bring about “substantive and measurable improvements” in India’s IPR regime for the benefit of a broad range of innovative and creative industries.

“We hope this year we can convince the US that our laws are drafted in a way so as to protect both our consumer and industry’s interest. The new IPR policy that we are coming out with will take care of any anomalies or vagueness in our existing regime and make it tight and also fast-track clearances of patent applications,” the official said.

US demand

But, the US may not be satisfied till India makes changes in its IP legislation. It wants India to change Section 3(d) of its patent law, which denies patents for incremental innovations to avoid ever-greening of patents (continuation of patent protection even after the life of the patent is over).

It also wants to discourage grant of compulsory licences to generic manufacturers by the Indian Government for producing patented medicines in times of emergencies or public health crises.

The USTR report, in fact, asks India to have another round of consultations with stakeholders before finalising the IPR policy, so that the US Government and industry can try to push its case further.

“Both the Indian Government and courts in the country have been very careful about dealing with requests for compulsory licences from the industry as well as interpreting Section 3(d). No global rules have ever been flouted,” the official added.

Every year the USTR comes up with a list of countries, which, according to it, have IPR laws that do not grant adequate protection to patents and discourage innovation. It also has a mechanism to designate certain nations as ‘priority countries’ with a poor IPR regime against which the US could impose economic sanctions.

Although the US had initiated an Out-of-Cycle Review (OCR) of India last time to examine if it should be designated as a ‘priority country’, in 2015 it has refrained from doing so. But it has warned that an OCR could come later.

“We are not announcing another OCR at this time, but will monitor progress over the coming months, and are prepared to take further action, if necessary,” the report said.

Other countries that are on the Priority Watch List include Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, Ecuador, Indonesia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine and Venezuela.

This entry was posted in Indian Patent Law, TRIPS, TRIPS plus, US pressure on India, USTR 301 report. Bookmark the permalink.

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