30 April, 2020
12 Min Read
Part of: GS-III- CULTURE (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)
While India made “meaningful progress” to enhance IP protection and enforcement in some areas, it did not resolve recent and long-standing challenges, and created new ones, the United States Trade Representative’s report said.
India continues to be on the ‘Priority Watch List’ of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) for lack of adequate intellectual property (IP) rights protection and enforcement, the USTR said in its Annual Special 301 Report, released.
“Despite India’s justifications of limiting IP protections as a way to promote access to technologies, India maintains extremely high customs duties directed to IP-intensive products such as medical devices, pharmaceuticals, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) products, solar energy equipment, and capital goods,” it said.
Online IP enforcement in India has improved, the report said, but progress is undercut by factors including weak enforcement by courts and the police, lack of familiarity with investigative techniques and no centralised IP enforcement agency. The USTR also noted that India was ranked among the top five source economies for fake goods by the Organization of Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) in 2019.
Not good for online rights
The government’s 2019 draft Copyright Amendment Rules, if implemented, would have “severe” consequences for Internet-content rights holders, the report said, as the proposed rules broadened the scope of compulsory licensing from radio and television broadcasting to online broadcasting.
Trademark counterfeiting levels were “problematic”, the report said and there were “excessive delays” in obtaining trademarks due to a lack of examination quality. The U.S., the report noted, continues to urge India to join the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, a treaty that harmonises trademark registration.
Analyis- Priority watch list (Mains shot)
What is priority watch list?
“Priority Watch List” and “Watch List” countries are identified by the annual Special 301 Report. “Priority Watchlist countries” are judged by the USTR as having “serious intellectual property rights deficiencies” that require increased USTR attention. “Watch List” countries have been identified by the USTR as having “serious intellectual property rights deficiencies” but are not yet placed on the “Priority Watchlist”. The USTR can move countries from one list to the other, or remove them from the lists, throughout the year.
Why India is placed under this? (PT SHOT)
Lack of sufficient measurable improvements to its Intellectual Property (IP) framework on long-standing and new challenges, which has negatively affected American right holders over the past year. India remains one of the world’s most challenging major economies with respect to protection and enforcement of IP.
What needs to be done- demands by USTR?
To maintain the integrity and predictability of IP systems, governments should use compulsory licenses only in extremely limited circumstances and after making every effort to obtain authorisation from the patent owner on reasonable commercial terms and conditions.
Such licenses should not be used as a tool to implement industrial policy, including providing advantages to domestic companies, or as undue leverage in pricing negotiations between governments and right holders. It is also critical that foreign governments ensure transparency and due process in any actions related to compulsory licenses. India has yet to take steps to address long-standing patent issues that affect innovative industries.
Special 301 (PT SHOT)
The Special 301 Report is prepared annually by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) that identifies trade barriers to United States companies and products due to the intellectual property laws, such as copyright, patents and trademarks, in other countries. By April 30 of each year, the USTR must identify countries which do not provide "adequate and effective" protection of intellectual property rights or "fair and equitable market access to United States persons that rely upon intellectual property rights".
The Special 301 Report is published pursuant to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 as amended by Section 1303 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988. The Special 301 Report was first published in 1989.
Priority watch list countries: USA uses “carrot” policy to incentivize IPR reforms e.g. funding, training, capacity building, bilateral exchanges and conferences.
Priority foreign countries: “sticks” policy to force IPR reforms e.g. putting trade sanctions, approaching WTO dispute resolution.
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India- As a USTR’s Developed Country
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