[Ip-health] Fwd: Civil society groups oppose India-US MoU on intellectual property rights

prathibha sivasubramanian psa2m2020 at gmail.com
Mon Feb 24 21:41:55 PST 2020

Civil society groups want the contents of the MoU to be made public before
its finalisation to ensure that India resists US demands to influence the
implementation of India's IP legislations
[image: twitter-logo] <https://twitter.com/@joecmathew> Joe C Mathew

Civil society groups have opposed India's decision to sign a Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU) with the US on intellectual property rights (IPR). The
groups want the contents of the MoU to be made public before its
finalisation to ensure that India resists US demands to influence the
implementation of India's IP legislations. The response comes in the
backdrop of the reported decision of the Union Cabinet to approve the
signing of the MoU ahead of US President Donald Trump's visit next week.

In a letter to the stakeholder ministries and departments, the groups
called for the rejection of any demand to provide 'TRIPS-plus'

protection (IP rights in excess to what is required under the WTO laws) on
patent rights through changes in IP administrative processes. It also asked
for a halt on the unilateral move of the DPIIT (Department for Promotion of
Industry and Internal Trade) to review India's IP legislations and make
changes to tilt the balance towards rights of IP holders.

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"The proposed US-India Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Intellectual
Property Rights (IP) for the exchange of knowledge and training of
officials working in offices undertaking IP management in India is a matter
of serious concern because the United States has been pressing India to
make changes in its IP legislations, rules and procedures through the
annual United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 reports and is
also interested in getting Indian IP management officials to opt for a
stronger IP regime", the letter said.

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The groups stated that India has been the target of USTR since the country
chose to make use of all the flexibilities available in the TRIPS Agreement
in its implementing legislations. "India's IP laws especially the Patents
Act, Copyrights Act and Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights
Act contain robust public interest safeguards against the abuse of IP
monopolies. The provisions in the Patents Act are considered as model law
for other countries because these provisions curb the patenting of known
molecules and provide effective remedies to prevent abuse of a patent
monopoly through compulsory licensing. These public health provisions in
the Patents Act are crucial for ensuring affordable generic medicines for
the people", it pointed out. The groups termed the MoU as an attempt by the
United States to use indirect methods such as training Indian patent
examiners to dissuade them from implementing the public health safeguards
in Indian patent law.

"Any accommodation of a demand from the US to directly change laws or
indirectly impact the implementation of the public interest provisions
should be rejected outright", they said. They added that a strong IP regime
favouring the patent holder will create changes in the form of extending
the term of protection between patent and drug registration procedures and
expand the scope of protectable subject matter through the IP officials
implementing a liberal interpretation and granting approval for broader IP

The groups suspect that the bilateral arrangement, will allow the United
States to get Indian IP management organizations strengthen its enforcement
and adjudicatory mechanisms for combating IPR infringements through the
introduction of specialized commercial courts to achieve a higher level of
monopoly for US multinationals operating in the Indian market, for
medicines, seeds, electronic designs and products of new and emerging
technologies involving biotech, new materials and software.

The signatories of the letter represents organisations like All India Drug
Action Network (AIDAN), National Working Group on Patent Laws and WTO,
Campaign for Access to Medicines and Devices-India, Third World Network
(India) and Drug Action Forum, Karnataka (DAF-K).

The letter has been addressed to Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, with
copies to the ministers of health, chemicals and fertilizers and external


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