U.S. Priority Watch List for IPR | 30 Apr 2020

Why in News

India continues to be on the ‘Priority Watch List’ of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) for lack of adequate Intellectual Property (IP) rights protection and enforcement, according to the USTRs Annual Special 301 Report.

Key Points

  • Concerns:
    • Copyright laws not incentivising the creation and commercialisation of content.
    • An outdated trade secrets framework.
    • India restricted the transparency of information provided on state-issued pharmaceutical manufacturing licenses.
    • India continues to apply restrictive patentability criteria to reject pharmaceutical patents.
    • Absence of an effective system for protecting against the unfair means to obtain marketing approval for pharmaceuticals and certain agricultural chemical products.
    • India maintains extremely high customs duties directed to IP-intensive products such as medical devices, pharmaceuticals, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) products, solar energy equipment, and capital goods.
    • India was ranked among the top five source countries for fake goods by the Organization of Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) in 2019.
    • The government’s 2019 draft Copyright Amendment Rules, if implemented, would have “severe” consequences for Internet-content rights holders as the proposed rules broadened the scope of compulsory licensing from radio and television broadcasting to online broadcasting.
    • Trademarks: Trademark counterfeiting levels were “problematic” and there were “excessive delays” in obtaining trademarks due to a lack of examination quality.
      • It urged India to join the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, a treaty that harmonises trademark registration.
  • Progress Noted
    • India had made “meaningful progress” to enhance IP protection and enforcement in some areas in 2019 and had acceded to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Internet Treaties and the Nice Agreement.
      • The Nice Agreement establishes a classification of goods and services for the purposes of registering trademarks and service marks (the Nice Classification).
    • Online IP enforcement: Online IP enforcement in India has improved but progress is undercut by factors including :
      • Weak enforcement by courts and the police.
      • Lack of familiarity with investigative techniques.
      • No centralised IP enforcement agency.

Special 301 Report

  • The Special 301 Report identifies trading partners that do not adequately or effectively protect and enforce Intellectual Property (IP) rights or otherwise deny market access to U.S. innovators and creators that rely on protection of their IP rights.
  • The report is released annually by the United States Trade Representative (USTR).
  • Trading partners that currently present the most significant concerns regarding IP rights are placed on the Priority Watch List or Watch List. USTR identified 33 countries for these lists in the Special 301 Report:
    • Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Venezuela are on the Priority Watch List.
    • Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam are on the Watch List.

Source: TH