IP protection worsening in India, says US group

IP protection worsening  in India, says US group

The influential US Chamber of Commerce today asked the Obama Administration to designate India as a Priority Foreign Country, the worst classification given to foreign countries that "deny adequate and effective" protection of intellectual property rights.

"We hope that designating India as a Priority Foreign Country will generate a much-needed dialogue and engagement between the US and Indian governments to strengthen the IP environment in India," Mark Elliot, executive vice president of US Chamber's Global Intellectual Property Center, told PTI, after the chamber submitted its recommendation to the US Trade Representatives.

The US Chamber of Commerce in its 2014 Special 301 Submission specifically highlights India as a country with particular challenges with respect to IP protections.

"As such we recommend the Office of US Trade Representative to designate India as a Priority Foreign Country," Elliot said.

Under the US Trade Act, a Priority Foreign Country is the worst classification given to "foreign countries that deny adequate and effective" protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) or "fair and equitable market access" to US persons relying upon IPR protection.

In 2013, Ukraine was designated as a Priority Foreign Country.

In its report to the USTR, the US Chamber of Commerce alleged over the past two years, the IP environment in India has deteriorated rapidly, making India an outlier in the international community.

"While the then-President of India declared this decade to be India's 'Decade of Innovation' in 2010, India's policies are inconsistent with the former President's rhetoric," the report said.

India has the weakest IP environment of all countries, according to both the 2014 and 2012 editions of the Chamber's International IP Index, which maps the IP environment in 25 countries around the world based on existing international standards and best practices, it said.

The studies found that 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, the report said.

In its report, the US Chamber of Commerce also expressed its concern that India's IP policies might be followed by other countries.

"In addition to domestic policy actions, we continue to be very concerned about India's policy position on intellectual property in a range of international fora," it said.

"India has played a leading role in driving an IP weakening agenda at the UNFCCC, WTO, and WIPO, where government officials consistently represent intellectual property rights as a barrier to economic advancement and access to technology for developing countries even though the evidence does not support this view," the Chambers alleged.

"These claims threaten to undermine not only US innovation and industries, but also economic development and innovation in India, where domestic companies are in the process of maturing their capabilities in the IP generation and policy advocacy space," the report alleged.

"They also continue to distract negotiators in these and other fora from the real technology, trade, environmental and healthcare-related issues that they are or should be seeking to address," it alleged.

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