[Ip-health] Letter to the Prime Minister of India : Why the new Indo-US ‘Bilateralism’ on IP?

K.M. Gopakumar kumargopakm at gmail.com
Fri Oct 31 00:00:25 PDT 2014

22 October 2014


Shri. Narendra Modi

Hon’ble Prime Minister of India

South Block, Raisina Hill

New Delhi-110011

*Fax: *23019545

*SUBJECT: US-India Bilateral Relations on Intellectual Property*

Dear Prime Minister Modi ji,

We, the undersigned, wish to share with you some of our concerns on India’s
position on intellectual property (IP), particularly in the context of
bilateral relations between the United States of America and India. We
gather from the US-India Joint Statement dated 30 September 2014 that the
Indian Government

*(a)greeing on the need to foster innovation in a manner that promotes
economic growth and job creation…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 necessity for setting up the joint Indo-US IP Working Group is not
entirely clear. As the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP)‘s
press release of 3 October 2014 mentions, there is already in operation an
Indo-US Trade Policy Forum since 2010. *Therefore, we request your
Government to kindly make the specific purpose of this joint Working Group
publicly known.*

We wish to further submit that the grant of decision-making powers to the
new joint Working Group could be at the risk of ingression of sovereign
policy space. Bilateral arrangements should not have the power to supersede
domestic democratic decision-making processes mandated by the Constitution
of India. We appreciate that bilateral parleys at the political and
diplomatic levels may be necessary in order to address threats of
unilateral action by the US administration. *But such bilateralism in the
area of IP must be approached with an extremely high degree of caution.*

*We urge that the Government be particularly wary of higher IP standards
(benefiting US corporations) that are typically demanded by the US
administration and its trade negotiators in bilateral and plurilateral
negotiations.* The US demands clearly go beyond what the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) asks for from its member countries. Several regional
trade agreements or bilateral investment treaties either signed by or being
negotiated by the US bear evidence to this trend. Any bilateral negotiation
on IP between India and the US would definitely witness demands on India to
provide for higher standards of IP protection that are not required of us
by the WTO’s IP agreement - TRIPS.

It is important to note that the new bilateral arrangement between the
United States Government and the Government of India is being undertaken
against the backdrop of heightened US political interest in India’s IP
regime, which has been spurred on by its business interests. Pharmaceutical
and biotechnology MNCs backed by the US are the key actors on that front.
India has earned phenomenal interest world over for its generic medicines
-- a reputation that must be preserved. US should not decide our IP
policies when it is a question of national interest and international
solidarity. There have been intensified pressures on India; US putting
India on its 2014 ‘Priority Watch List’ and the current Out-of-Cycle Review
(OCR) of India’s IP regime being conducted by the US are recent examples of
this. We fully support the position taken by Indian authorities to not go
along with any such unilateral measures by the US Government. *We insist
that this stance of the Government of India be relentlessly maintained.*

In case there is an intent to craft afresh our position on IP and its
different dimensions, it should be pursued by a ‘National Working Group on
IP’ working under the oversight of a Standing Committee of the Parliament
of India. While formulating India’s positions on IP we trust that the
Government of India will continue to withstand external pressures on this
front. *We urge **the Government not to continue with the proposed annual
forum on IP with the US, particularly as we do not have a matching domestic

*The process begun under the DIPP to frame a national IP Policy, first
needs to be completed independently along with public consultation. Many
more stakeholders from amongst ‘ordinary’ peoples need to be included in
the process; these include treatment activists, farmers groups, community
organisations, etc. *While there is no harm in having a policy statement,
the policy should be consistent with the existing laws in our country and
mindful of the future challenges, particularly for the generic medicines
industry. *While framing a national IP Policy afresh, it needs to be kept
in mind that our current IP laws are already compliant with existing
international laws and allied obligations.** We strongly urge you not to
amend India's IP statutes to reduce the flexibilities currently available
to safeguard the public interest such as affordable medical products, right
to food and the access to knowledge.*

As you are aware, India’s IP rules and their enforcement also have
trans-boundary implications. As an emerging global force, as well as a
responsible member of the global community, through its IP strategy India
is well positioned to also articulate the concerns of many Low and Middle
Income countries. The legitimate space for discussions on global IP
standards is the WTO’s TRIPS Council, and it is in this multilateral forum
that issues of concern between different countries should be discussed. *India
ought to reach out to a much larger constituency, even beyond the 160
country governments represented in the WTO, through the promotion of
IP-related policies that are humane and which foster people-centred and
planet-sensitive ‘development’.*

We the undersigned, working in different sectors, would also like to
collectively reiterate that higher standards of IP protection will not
necessarily translate into ‘economic growth and job creation’ in a country
such as India. IP-related policy cannot be dealt with as a mere trade
issue. Sectors that entail the provision of basic human needs, such as
health, agriculture, biodiversity, education, etc., can be adversely
impacted by higher standards of IP protection and the dilution of
flexibilities (for example, those in our existing Patent Act). Public
policy goals with respect to scientific endeavours, technology development
and local innovations that offer more sustainable options for the future –
such as climate-adaptive seeds and Indian Systems of Medicine, can also be
severely challenged by inappropriate domestic IP strategies.

Given the multiple domestic concerns that our IP Policy must respond to, we
press for your Government to kindly view it with a holistic perspective
that it warrants, rather than the official approach being subsumed by the
relatively narrow confines of trade and economic policy.

We earnestly entreat you to take a personal interest in this important

Thank you.



   1. Shalini Bhutani, Legal Researcher & Policy Analyst
   2. B L Das, Former Ambassador to GATT
   3. Anand Grover, Director, Lawyers Collective
   4. K M Gopakumar, Third World Network
   5. Dinesh Abrol, National Working Group on Patent Laws
   6. Prof. Jayati Ghosh, Jawaharlal Nehru University
   7. Kalyani Menon-Sen, Feminist Activist & Coordinator, Campaign for
   Affordable Trastuzumab
   8. S. Srinivasan, Low Cost Standard Therapeutics (LOCOST), Gujarat
   9. Amit Sengupta, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan
   10. Mira Shiva, Initiative for Health & Equity in Society and All India
   Drug Action Network
   11. Biswajit Dhar, Professor CESP/SSS, Jawaharlal Nehru University
   12. Sagari R Ramdas, Food Sovereignty Alliance - India
   13. K. Pandu Dora, Adivasi Aikya Vedika
   14. Kavitha Kuruganti, Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture
   15. Vikas Ahuja, President, The Delhi Network of Positive People
   16. Loon Gangte, Regional Coordinator, ITPC-South Asia
   17. Aruna Rodrigues, Sunray Harvesters
   18. Suman Sahai, Gene Campaign
   19. Wilfred Dcosta, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
   20. Surajit Mazumdar, Professor CESP/SSS, Jawaharlal Nehru University
   21. Kanchi Kohli, Campaign for Conservation and Community Control over
   Biodiversity & Kalpavriksh
   22. Kapil Shah, Jatan Trust, Gujarat & Organic Farming Association of
   India (OFAI)
   23. S. Ashalatha on behalf of Rythu Swarajya Vedika, Telangana and
   Andhra Pradesh
   24. Kavita Panjabi, Professor, Jadavpur University
   25. Umendra Dutt, Kheti Virasat Mission, Punjab
   26. Usha S., Thanal, Kerala
   27. Aruna Burte, Feminist Researcher and cancer survivor
   28. Nivedita Menon, Feminist Activist and Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru
   29. Gabriele Dietrich, National Alliance of People's Movements
   30. Kannamma Raman, Associate Professor, Department of Civics and
   Politics, University of Mumbai
   31. Jacob Nellithanam, Centre for indigenous Farming Systems,
   Chhattisgarh & Madhya Pradesh
   32. Rajesh Krishnan, Coalition for a GM Free India
   33. Rachna Arora from Public Awareness on GM Food (PAGMF)
   34. Ashish Gupta, IFOAM Asia
   35. Claude Alvares, Goa Foundation
   36. M R Baiju, Democratic Alliance for Knowledge Freedom (DAKF), Kerala
   37. Madhu Sarin, Forest rights researcher and policy analyst
   38. P V Satheesh, Director, Deccan Development Society
   39. C N Suresh Kumar, Co-Convenor, Millet Network of India (MINI)
   40. C Jayasri, Coordinator, Southern Action on Genetic Engineering (SAGE)
   41. A Giridhar Babu, Alliance for Food Sovereignty in South Asia (AFSSA)

42.  Narsamma Masanagari, Media Coordinator, Community Media Trust

43.  Bharat Mansata, Earthcare Books

44.  T C James, former Director (IPRs), DIPP, Government of India

45.  D. Narasimha Reddy, ICSSR National Fellow, CSD, Hyderabad

46.  Mishi Choudhary, Executive Director, Software Freedom Law Centre (

47.  K Ashok Rao, President, National Confederation of Officers
Associations (NCOA)

48.  B Ekbal, Kerala Sastra Sahithya Parishad

49.  Gautam Mody, General Secretary New Trade Union Initiative

50.  Sunil Abraham, Centre for Internet and Society (CIS)

51.  Veena Johari, Lawyer and Legal Researcher

52.  Subbiah Arunachalam, Science writer

53.  Vandana Shiva, Director Navdanya Trust.

   1. Manoj Pardeshi, General Secretary, National Coalition of People
   Living with HIV in India (NCPI+) and NMP+
   2. Malini Aisola, Oxfam India
   3. Manicandan, Forum Against FTAs
   4. Afsar H. Jafri, Focus on the Global South
   5. Forum against FTAs.


Hon’ Minister of Agriculture

Hon’ Minister of Commerce and Industry

Hon’ Minister of External affairs

Hon’ Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change

Hon’ Minister of Human Resources Development

Hon’ Minister of Communications and Information Technology

Hon’ Minister of Science and Technology

Principal Secretary, PMO

Secretary, Department of Agriculture Research and Education

Secretary, ER& DPA , Ministry of External Affairs

Secretary, Department of Commerce

Secretary, Department of Communication and Information Technology

Secretary, Department of Environment, Forests and Climate Change

Secretary, Department of Higher Education

Secretary, Department of Industry Policy and Promotion

Secretary, Department of Science and Technology

*For Further Communications:-*

*Dinesh Abrol, Convener, National Working Group on Patent Laws (NWGPL), *J
17, Second Floor, Lajpat Nagar 3, New Delhi 110 02.
Tel: 011-40521773, Email: dinesh.abrol at gmail.com

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