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Novartis case may not reach WTO

business Updated: Aug 08, 2007 02:10 IST
Gaurav Choudhury
Gaurav Choudhury
Hindustan Times
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Union commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath on Tuesday said India’s patent laws were in conformity with the intellectual property rules laid down by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

"Our patent laws are WTO compliant. It is only one company that has raised its voice. In the last two years, since Indian patent laws became WTO (World Trade Organisation) compliant, no one has ever made any complaint," Nath told reporters.

Nath’s remarks came a day after the Madras High Court dismissed a petition filed by Swiss pharmaceutical major Novartis challenging the constitutional validity of a certain section of the Indian Patents Act, which prevents patenting of minor modifications to products and processes.

Novartis had approached the Madras High Court after its patent application on its cancer drug Glivec was rejected by the patent office.

Nath, who signed a pact with the Swiss government for cooperation in protecting and promoting intellectual property, said India respects intellectual property and does not allow counterfeiting.

The Swiss government indicated that it was unlikely to take the Novartis issue to the WTO disputes settlement body.

“We have to accept the settlement and the Swiss government never engages itself or questions any judicial announcements. This is a case with only one company," said Doris Leuthard, federal councillor, Department of Economic Affairs, Swiss Confederation. “We should have a reliable TRIPS (trade-related intellectual property rights) system in the WTO,” Leuthard said.

She, however, said Swiss companies would be watching the development closely but added that she could not predict the impact of the ruling on investment plans by Swiss firms in India

Nath also indicated that the government could announce a new incentive package for the beleaguered export sector in the wake of the rising rupee. The commerce ministry has constituted a team to examine the impact of the strengthening rupee on exports.