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US lobby group ranks India among the lowest in IP friendliness

A report brought out by the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) of the US industry and business lobby group - The US Chamber of Commerce - has ranked India as 43rd in a 45 country list on the basis of intellectual property (IP) environment.  

twitter-logoJoe C Mathew | February 8, 2017 | Updated 18:03 IST
US lobby group ranks India among the lowest in IP friendliness

A report brought out by the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) of the US industry and business lobby group - The US Chamber of Commerce - has ranked India as 43rd in a 45 country list on the basis of intellectual property (IP) environment.  

It looks at parameters like patents, trademarks, copyright, trade secrets, enforcement, and international treaties to see how conducive they are for US companies to expand their businesses in countries that are covered in the report. India has been among the lowest rated countries ever since GIPC started off the annual exercise five years ago, as the country's IP rules are not perfectly aligned with the interests of large US corporations.

GIPC prefers higher standards of IP protection than what is required to be followed by India because of its obligations under World Trade Organisation's (WTO) Agreement of Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Incidentally, the other document GIPC has relied upon, the final text of Trans Pacific Agreement (TPP), to show how trade agreements have progressively raised the bar for IP standards around the world in a 21st century global marketplace, has been dumped by Donald Trump, the new President of United States.

While the report acknowledges India's National Intellectual Property Rights Policy 2016, it complains that IP-intensive industries continue to face challenges in Indian market with regard to the scope of patentability for computer implemented inventions, section 3(d) of the Indian Patent Act (which denies patent protection to incremental innovations), and the Delhi High Court's decision to allow photocopying of copyrighted content for fair use.

From the US companies' perspective, India's national IP policy does not address the fundamental weakness they perceive in India's IP framework. The GIPC says there is only limited framework for protection of IP in life sciences. The report finds India's patentability requirements outside international standards and opposes, what US Chambers' stakeholders consider as lengthy pre-grant opposition proceedings. It accuses India of having used the compulsory licensing provisions under the Patent Act for commercial and non emergency purposes.

The report shows that India's overall score has increased marginally from 24 per cent (7.05 out of 30) in the fourth edition to 25 per cent (8.75 out of 35) in the fifth edition. This change in score reflects a relatively mixed performance in the 5 new indicators - patent opposition, industrial design, regulatory and administrative barriers and transparency and public reporting - added in the fifth edition, it said.

"In India, many of the same challenges to innovation remain," said David Hirschmann, president and CEO of GIPC. "Although India has made incremental progress, the government needs to build upon the positive rhetoric of its IPR policy with the substantial legislative reforms that innovators need. Reforms can improve its reputation as a destination for doing business, foreign businesses' ability to invest in and 'Make in India', and India's own innovative industries". He stated.

The top ranking countries in the index, which covers countries that account for 90 per cent of global GDP, include the US, UK and Germany in that order. The three lowest ranking countries are Venezuela, Pakistan and India.

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