Tuesday, April 22, 2014
India Not To Dilute IPR Law: Dialogue with Pharma Cos to Continue
India will not dilute its intellectual property laws under pressure from pharmaceutical multinationals but will seek to continue dialogue with these companies to address their concerns, top officials said after a meeting with Cabinet secretary Ajit Seth. Seth had called secretaries of five departments to discuss ways to deal with the intellectual property rights (IPR) issues being raised by some US companies, particularly those in the pharma .This meeting came at a time when the US is reviewing India's IPR regime, which, in the worst-case scenario, could lead to trade sanctions against the country. "Most officials present at the meeting agreed that that there is no need to rollback any part of India's current IPR legislation, which is fully compliant with TRIPS (Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) obligations at the WTO," said an official who attended the meeting. A decision is expected on May 1 when the US Trade Representative will release its special 301 report that rates IP regimes of different countries. "We have analysed out IPR regime. We are clear that we are TRIPS compliant and any unilateral action against India would be challenged at the multilateral level. We are discussing the way ahead in the worst-case scenario, so our trade doesn't get hit," another official said. Besides Seth, commerce secretary Rajeev Kher, department of industrial policy and promotion secretary Amitabh Kant, health secretary Lov Kumar Verma, pharma secretary Aradhana Johri and foreign secretary Sujatha Singh were present at the meeting. S Jaishankar, India's ambassador to the US, had recommended that the government engage in a dialogue with US pharma companies to hear out their IPR-related concerns. Some US industries, particularly select companies from the pharmaceuticals sector, have lately intensified pressure on their government These companies argue that India's IPR regime violates international norms and discriminates against them. "Officials present at the meeting argued that US defence firms, such as Boeing and HoneywellBSE 2.30 % in their representations to US agencies, have backed India's IPR and these complains are emanating from select companies, mainly from pharma sector," said a bureaucrat present at the meeting. He added that the government does not expect the US to take drastic steps immediately, considering the political scenario and ongoing elections in India. The US will have to engage with a new government within a month's time, which may have its fresh take on many policy issues and, in this backdrop, we do not expect it to impose trade sanctions, the bureaucrat quoted above said, adding that if sector-specific actions are taken, India will deal with it.