[Ip-health] Livemint: US disappointed at the stature of joint working group
james.love at keionline.org
Sat Nov 29 20:12:52 PST 2014
Below is an eye opening account of last week's meeting of the joint
US/India working group on IPR issues.
* Shameless quote by Michael Froman: "Incentivizing life-saving innovations
and promoting affordable access to quality healthcare and safe medicine
will benefit all Indians and Americans,” Froman added.
* Good advice from India civil society: Dinesh Abrol, convenor of the
National Working Group on Patent Laws, a civil society group, said India
had walked into a trap by agreeing to form the working group and that US
demands on India would only grow.
LIVEMINT | HINDUSTAN TIMES |
30 NOVEMBER 2014
First published NOV 28 2014.
Asit Ranjan Mishra
Differences on intellectual property rights between India and US widen. US
disappointed at the stature of joint working group; India insists the group
is important to resolve bilateral issues.
New Delhi: Differences between India and the US over intellectual property
rights (IPR) issues have widened after a ministerial-level trade policy
forum meeting on Tuesday, a government official said, asking to remain
Tuesday’s meeting saw the US express disappointment at the stature of a
joint working group on the IPR issue. It accused India of backtracking from
a commitment to appoint a high-level bureaucrat at the head of the group.
But India insisted that the group, headed by a joint secretary, is
important enough to resolve bilateral differences, according to a
government official who spoke under condition of anonymity.
In September, during a visit by the then acting deputy US trade
representative (USTR) Wendy Cutler to finalize the agenda for the trade
policy forum and parts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US programme, the
American side had insisted on setting up a working group on IPR at the
secretary level. However, the Indian side had communicated that it may not
be possible since the bureaucratic structures in the two countries are
“There are eight or nine departments who handle IPR in India. IPR is not
only pharma. Copyright is with the human resources department, films, etc.
are with information and broadcasting ministry, traditional knowledge is
with AYUSH ministry. You can’t have eight (Indian) secretaries and one
person from the US sitting in a meeting to discuss IPR issues,” a
government official had earlier said.
However, both sides did agree to form the working group and an announcement
to this effect was made in the joint statement from Prime Minister Modi’s
meeting with US President Barack Obama in September.
“Agreeing on the need to foster innovation in a manner that promotes
economic growth and job creation, the leaders committed to establish an
annual high-level Intellectual Property (IP) Working Group with appropriate
decision-making and technical-level meetings as part of the Trade Policy
Forum,” the statement had said.
The working group, which is headed by joint secretary in the Department of
Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) D.V. Prasad on the Indian side, held
its first meeting during the trade policy forum meeting earlier this week.
Dinesh Abrol, convenor of the National Working Group on Patent Laws, a
civil society group, said India had walked into a trap by agreeing to form
the working group and that US demands on India would only grow.
“The fundamental mistake that we committed is by agreeing to a bilateral
mechanism on a multilateral issue. And on a bilateral platform, the US is
at an advantage because we seek foreign direct investment and technology
from the country,” Abrol added.
The US has been complaining about poor protection and enforcement of
intellectual property in India and has announced plans to initiate an
out-of-cycle review of India’s IP policy.
The US has been threatening to downgrade India to “priority foreign
country” —a category of serious offenders that could invite US sanctions,
from India’s current status of “priority watch” list. The government
official quoted earlier said the Indian side did not raise the matter as
“it is the internal matter of the US and we are not worried about it”. The
US-India joint statement after the Trade Policy Forum meeting stated that
both countries recognize the importance of providing a transparent and
predictable policy environment for fostering innovation.
“India and the United States recognize the importance of trade secrets
protection to attracting investment and agree to exchange information on
best legal practices in this area,” the statement said.
Speaking at an event organized by the lobby group Federation of Indian
Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), US trade representative Michael
Froman said that in September, Prime Minister Modi and President Obama had
agreed to establish a high-level working group on intellectual property
rights, “providing us with a platform to address issues of interest to both
“Copyright enforcement is a top priority of the entertainment industries in
Hollywood and in Bollywood. Incentivizing life-saving innovations and
promoting affordable access to quality healthcare and safe medicine will
benefit all Indians and Americans,” Froman added.
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