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A leap of faith in India-US ties

Ajay Batra     August 30, 2016

The second US-India Strategic & Commercial Dialogue, due this month end, signifies broadening engagement between the two countries. The landslide reforms carried by the Indian Government including 100 per cent FDI in defence, already liberated Electronic System Design & Manufacturing (ESDM) ecosystem, nuclear energy cooperation and India's stellar entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) are great milestones in our current engagement between India and the US. Yet, it is interesting to see how the two sides are trying to work together on issues related to IPR policy harmonisation, protection of IPR & Transferred Technologies.

India's strategic priorities have clearly shifted into high gear by moving up the value chain of services to delivering strong and sophisticated engineering, pharmaceutical, space and defence solutions. In order to target a growth trajectory, it needs state-of-the-art technology and IPR transfers to rebuild its railways, energy, defence, smart cities, water, infrastructure, environment and engineering capabilities. So far, the two sides are establishing deeper engagement in retail, insurance, textiles and movement of people. Interestingly, the deeper level of engagement in defence, ESDM, energy, railways, environment and other aspects of the value chain remain limited to signing of accords, modifying policies rather than addressing key concerns that affect real engagement in these areas.

It is indeed interesting to see 40 years of EU-China IPR engagement building a strong and resurgent China. The EU states have been actively engaging in building IPR infrastructure, policy engagement, judicial reforms and training institutions, thereby laying foundations of strong IPR and Technology Safety, policy, judicial systems and its execution processes. Clearly, in the last 15 years, the Chinese have made transformative progress in emerging from a counterfeit, IP abusive nation to become more globally connected and a provider of strong engineering, high value add products and services to the world. Its strong ties with the EU in trade & commerce, building sophisticated technology and high-tech products and services clearly demonstrate a healthy underlying relationship. It has clearly turned every rule in the book on its head and sought real progress on the ground by deeply engaging with those who matter most in furthering its nationalist agenda.  

India's latest IPR policy lays down the foundation and intent of making India an IP centric economy. Large scale measures and government support on filing of patents & other IPRs, support to clusters, inclusion of the subject in K12 education system, training the police force on enforcement(through systemic approach by involving national IP bodies & trade federations), building a national IP Valuation Standard(under progress). In an interesting twist, state governments are strongly supporting its IPR based startups by offering fiscal & non-fiscal benefits in addition to initiatives by the Central government. On similar lines, the legal environment is abound with invigoration of IP law firms, training of legal professionals, conferences, enforcement sub-committees and large scale reports on counterfeiting raids, online campaigns, blocking of internet sites, removal or resolved cases of piracy and systematic processes in most e-commerce websites to cooperate with the owners of IPRs. Few months after the approval of the national policy, it reflects a systematic shift in the attitudes of the government, businesses and people .

India and the US are ready for a leap of faith and taking their relationship forward. There couldn't be a better time. India's ranking are consistently improving in Global Innovation Index 2016 and ease of doing business. The key elements of developing an industrial economy are based on technology transfers and IPRs of corporations that have invested billions of dollars in providing technology and safety environment in letter and spirit. This fact has been adequately demonstrated by IP regimes, policies and statutes of Japan, Singapore, South Korea, South Africa and Israel.

While the progress in the US-India technology trade may appear slow in the past decade, the last two years have seen it accelerating to a breakneck speed. One fact that stands out clearly is that the US is the largest contributor of technology & IPR transfer to its partners and allies. It is finally up to India to build a conducive environment for absorption, nurturing, the growth and safety of transferred technologies and IPRs and transform itself into an industrial economy.

Ajay Batra is the Founder of World Intellectual Property Rights Bank


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