Tuesday, 25 February 2014

US industry wants India in IP rights violators list

American industry groups on Wednesday asked the US government to declare India as a Priority Foreign Country (PFC) — a dubious distinction given to violators of intellectual property (IP) rights.
The status could lead to imposition of trade sanctions in India. However, pressure notwithstanding, India has refused to enter into any kind of talks with the United States, calling its actions unilateral and outside the framework of WTO.
While the federal quasi-judicial agency, US International Trade Commission (USITC), is conducting a ‘fact-finding’ probe into India’s trade and investment policies, US Trade Representative (USTR) is investigating its IP regime on the allegations made by US industry lobbies.
The USITC has already heard American lobby groups and Indian industry representatives on the issue. India, on its part, has refused to entertain the USITC officials who wanted to meet senior functionaries of more than 14 departments and question them regarding the probe.
The ministry of external affairs has replied to the US embassy email saying that the meeting would not be possible due to the impending elections and closing of fiscal year.
The USITC reports form the basis of US trade policy.
Stepping up the pressure on India, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which represents about 50 US business groups, in a letter, has told the USTR that “this designation (PFC) appropriately would rank India among the very worst violators of intellectual property rights and establish a process leading to concrete solutions”.
Representatives of several influential trade bodies appeared before an inter-governmental panel led by the USTR on Monday making a case against India's trade practices.
Under the US Trade Act, a Priority Foreign Country is the worst classification given to foreign countries that deny adequate and effective protection of IPR or fair and equitable market access to US persons relying upon IPR protection. Trade experts have warned that such a designation would lead to further deterioration of relationship between the two countries.

As posted in Financial Express:

Monday, 3 February 2014

Experts, pharma firms doubt US intellectual property ranking; India lowest among 25 countries

Intellectual property experts and generic drug firms in India have questioned the methodology and even the motive behind the US Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Centre (GIPC) index in which the nation has been ranked the lowest among 25 countries.
The ranking calls those IP regimes strong which, unlike that in India, continue to promote weak and trivial inventions, patent experts argued while trashing the index that yet again placed the country the lowest in its second edition released last week.
"Underlying this report is a major paradox that protecting weak patents makes the IP regime a strong one," IP expert Shamnad Basheer told. "Countries such as India that have stood up for genuine innovation and refused to protect trivial inventions have been accused of having 'weak' IP regimes while it should have been the other way round."
In its report which ranked the US, UK and France as the top upholders of intellectual property rights, the GIPC said, "India continues to have the weakest IP environment of all countries included in the Index.
Despite the 2010 declaration by the then-President of India that the next 10 years will be India's 'Decade of Innovation' the continued use of compulsory licenses, patent revocations, and weak legislative and enforcement mechanisms raise serious concerns about India's commitment to promote innovation and protect creators."
Experts pointed out that the charge of 'continued use of compulsory licenses' notwithstanding, India had granted only one such licence to domestic drug maker Natco Pharma in 2012 to make a generic version of Bayer's expensive cancer drug Nexavar.
Although the government has been considering compulsory licences for a few other expensive drugs, it is yet to take a final decision in any other case. Industry body Indian Pharma Alliance (IPA) has alleged that this index is a tool to push the interests of American companies in India.
"The GIPC is pushing the US government to take immediate steps to bring very serious pressures on Indian government for the benefit of American companies operating in India even at the cost of public health," said IPA secretary general DG Shah.
The report commissioned by the US Chamber of Commerce was drafted by a boutique consultancy Pugatch Consilium, which, according to Shah, provides advisory services to top global drugmakers.
"It is understood that Pugatch Consilium is also advising big pharma companies (Pfizer, Novartis, Roche and Astra Zeneca) and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA)," Shah said.

As posted in Economic Times:


Twitter Inc has bought 900 patents and signed a cross-licensing agreement with IBM, making peace with Big Blue and bulking up on its intellectual property portfolio as it takes on larger rivals Google and Facebook. 

The agreement announced on Friday comes after International Business Machines Corp accused Twitter in November - on the eve of its high-profile initial public offering - of infringing three of its patents. At the time, it underscored how few patents the six-year-old social media company possessed in relation to more established rivals. 

A cross-licensing agreement will help safeguard Twitter against similar claims in the future. 

IBM is one of the industry's largest research spenders and stockpilers of intellectual property, a consistent leader in US patent filings and the owner of some 41,000 patents. 

Twitter is following on the heels of Facebook, which itself faced similar claims before its own 2012 IPO. The world's largest social network has since gone on a patent-buying spree, acquiring intellectual property from tech bellwethers, including Microsoft Corp and IBM. 

"This acquisition of patents from IBM and licensing agreement provide us with greater intellectual property protection and give us freedom of action to innovate on behalf of all those who use our service," Ben Lee, Twitter's legal director, said in a joint statement with IBM on Friday. 

As posted in Economic Times: