India stays on US priority watch list along with China, Pakistan

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The United States kept India on its watch list, despite acknowledging a number of improvements New Delhi has accomplished, as the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) recently released its annual “Special 301” report on the adequacy and effectiveness of US trading partners’ protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR).

Citing “limited progress on IPR protection and enforcement in 2011,” the USTR called the Indian legal framework and enforcement system “weak.”

The report lamented the stalling of the “Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2010, which proposed partial implementation of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) Internet Treaties and other reforms,” while the challenges arising out of piracy over the Internet were growing.

“This year’s Special 301 Report is more significant than ever in light of recent US Government data showing that IP intensive industries support as many as 40 million American jobs and up to 60 percent of US exports,” said United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk, noting, “When trading partners don’t protect IPR, they threaten those critical jobs and exports.”

Thirteen countries – Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela –  are on the priority watch list. The USTR said, “These countries will be the subject of particularly intense bilateral engagement during the coming year.”

The US recognized India’s recent efforts to address “its patent application backlog,” but urged India, “to encourage India to promote a stable and predictable patent system that can nurture domestic innovation, including by resolving concerns with respect to the prohibition on patents for certain chemical forms absent a showing of increased efficacy.”

Washington asked New Delhi to “continue to work to streamline its patent opposition proceedings,” promising to, “closely monitor developments concerning compulsory licensing of patents in India.”

The report urged India “to provide an effective system for protecting against unfair commercial use, as well as unauthorized disclosure, of test or other data generated to obtain marketing approval for pharmaceutical and agricultural chemical products.”

The US found fault in the way the states interact within the Indian federal system, calling for “additional steps to improve coordination with enforcement officials of certain state governments within India.”

Not satisfied with judiciary and law enforcement mechanisms, the report encouraged “India to address its judicial inefficiencies and to strengthen criminal enforcement efforts, including by imposing deterrent level sentences and giving IPR prosecutions greater priority.”

Commending “India’s recognition of the importance of innovation as part of its efforts to promote domestic manufacturing,” the report urged India not to impose “discriminatory policies or other counterproductive measures in pursuit of that objective, and at the expense of adequate and 36 effective protection of intellectual property rights.” (IATNS)

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