Why in news?
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 on 29th April 2020.
- India remained one of the most challenging economies for IP enforcement and protection, the report said, using language it has used previously.
- Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Venezuela are also on the Priority Watch List.
- While India made “meaningful progress” to enhance IP protection and enforcement in some areas over the past year, it did not resolve recent and long-standing challenges, and created new ones, the report said.
- The same assessment was made in the 2019 report.
- 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.
- 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.
Concerns stated in the report
- These long-standing concerns were about innovators being able to receive, maintain and enforce patents particularly in the pharmaceutical sector; concerns over copyright laws not incentivising the creation and commercialisation of content; and an outdated trade secrets framework.
- India also further restricted the transparency of information provided on state-issued pharmaceutical manufacturing licenses.
- India continues to apply restrictive patentability criteria to reject pharmaceutical patents.
- India still has not established an effective system for protecting against the unfair commercial use, as well as the unauthorized disclosure, of undisclosed test or other data generated to obtain marketing approval for pharmaceuticals and certain agricultural chemical products.
- The report also mentioned high customs duties on medical devices and Information and Communications Technology.
- 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.
Intellectual property rights (IPR) are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names and images used in commerce. They usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time.