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India Not in US Patent Offenders List, but on Priority List
May 10, 2014

The USA kept India out of Priority Foreign Country list, reserved for the worst offenders of Intellectual Property Rights in the 2014 Special 301 report and said it will hold discussions with the next government in New Delhi on enforcement and protection.

India remains on the Priority Watch List in 2014. In making this determination, the US recognises not only the concern, but also the critical role that meaningful, constructive, and effective engagement between India and the US should play in resolving these concerns. In the coming months, the US will redouble its efforts to seek opportunities for meaningful, sustained, and effective engagement on Intellectual Property related matters with the new government, including at senior levels.

The US action shows that the US government does not want to precipitate a trade stand-off with India. The US trade lobbies, particularly from the pharma sector, have been pressurising its government to place India under the ‘Priority Foreign Country’ list.

Under the US Trade Act, a Priority Foreign Country is the worst classification given to those that deny adequate and effective protection of Intellectual Proerty Rights or fair and equitable market access to US entities relying on protection.

India remaining on Priority Watch List in 2014 would mean it is not properly protecting the US copyrights and patents but the US would continue to engage with India to improve Intellectual Property Rights regime. The report said, “In many areas, however, protection and enforcement challenges are growing, and there are serious questions regarding the future of the innovation climate in India across multiple sectors and disciplines. 

The Special 301 Report is an annual review of the global state of Intellectual Property Rights protection and enforcement. New Delhi does not figure in Priority Foreign Country list because of the ongoing general elections in India. The US administration expects that the new government in New Delhi will positively and constructively engage with the US in addressing the related issues.

The report also said that it will conduct ‘out-of-cycle reviews’ to promote engagement on Intellectual Property Rights challenges with India along with three other countries. The Obama Administration is committed to meaningful and sustained engagement with trading partners — from China to India to Canada—with the goal of resolving Intellectual Property related concerns so that Americans and American firms can compete on a level playing field in those markets.

Meanwhile, three major US companies—Boeing, Abbott and Honeywell—have come in support of India’s Intellectual Property Rights regime, which has come under attack by American pharma sector for alleged violations of global norms. Boeing has said that India has a strong legal framework to protect such rights. Pharma company Abbott has stated that it is not facing any significant challenges with respect to Intellectual Property protection. In its remarks submitted to the US Trade Commission Boeing has said that India has a legal framework that is adequate to protect Intellectual Property with no known cases of violation.

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