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India again on US priority watch list on intellectual property protection

India remains on the list for longstanding challenges in its IP framework and lack of sufficient improvements, particularly with respect to patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and enforcement.

business Updated: Apr 27, 2018 22:11 IST
Press Trust of India, Washington
India,United States,priority watch list
Removal of a requirement that applicants submit information about a product’s patent status has generated skepticism about whether India is serious about pursuing pro-innovation and pro-creativity growth policies.(Photo for representation)

India would continue to remain on the United States’ priority watch list for longstanding challenges in its intellectual property framework and lack of sufficient measurable progress, the US trade representative said, alleging that the country remains one of the world’s most challenging major economies in the area.

In its latest 2018 Special 301 Report, the USTR has placed 12 countries on its priority watch list. In addition to India, other countries on the list are Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Ukraine, and Venezuela.

The IP issues in these countries will be the subject of intense bilateral engagement during the coming year, the USTR said in its report. The special 301 report identifies US trading partners that do not adequately or effectively protect and enforce IP rights or otherwise deny market access to its innovators and creators that rely on protection of their IP rights.

“India remains on the priority watch list this year for longstanding challenges in its IP framework and lack of sufficient measurable improvements, particularly with respect to patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and enforcement, as well as for new issues that have negatively affected US right holders over the past year,” the USTR said.

It said the longstanding IP challenges facing US businesses in India include those which make it difficult for innovators to receive and maintain patents in India, particularly for pharmaceuticals.

Among other issues include India’s enforcement action and policies that are insufficient to curb the problem, copyright policies that do not properly incentivise the creation and commercialisation of content, and an outdated and insufficient trade secrets legal framework.

New and growing concerns, including with respect to reductions in transparency by India’s pharmaceutical regulator through the removal of a requirement that applicants submit information about a product’s patent status, continue to generate skepticism about whether India is serious about pursuing pro-innovation and pro-creativity growth policies, the USTR said.

At the same time, the report takes note of the several steps being taken by the Indian government to improve its IP environment. In 2017, India continued to carry out high-level initiatives involving IP, including the 2016 National IP Policy and Startup India, it said.

“While these and other Modi administration initiatives have acknowledged the important role innovation and creativity play in India’s development, they have failed to draw a direct link to specific IP reforms that would best help achieve these goals,” the USTR observed.

“India’s overall levels of IP enforcement remain deficient, and the lack of uniform progress across the country threatens to undercut the positive steps that certain states have taken,” the report said.

First Published: Apr 27, 2018 22:11 IST