US places India, China on IPR watch list

WASHINGTON: The US has placed India, China and 10 others on its Priority Watch List of trading partners that do not provide an adequate level of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection or enforcement.

Besides India and China, Russia, Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Thailand, and Venezuela have been placed on the Priority Watch List and “will be the subject of particularly intense engagement through bilateral discussion during the coming year”.

“Our creative and innovative products can hit the global marketplace sometimes with just a keystroke,” said US Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk on Thursday as his office released an annual report on IPR protection by US trading partners. “If we and our trading partners are not vigilant in protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights, they can vanish just as quickly,” he added.

India has made progress on improving its IPR infrastructure, including through the modernisation of its IP offices and the introduction of an e-filing system for trademark and patent applications, the report said. However, it added that the US “remains concerned about weak IPR protection and enforcement in India”. The US continues to “urge India to improve its IPR regime by providing stronger protection for copyrights and patents, as well as effective protection against unfair commercial use of undisclosed test and other data generated to obtain marketing approval for pharmaceutical and agrochemical products”.

The US also encourages India to enact legislation in the near term to strengthen its copyright laws and implement the provisions of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) internet treaties and improve its IPR enforcement system by enacting effective optical disc legislation to combat optical disc piracy.

Piracy and counterfeiting, including that of pharmaceuticals, remain a serious problem in India, the report said. India’s criminal IPR enforcement regime remains weak. Police action against those engaged in manufacturing, distributing, or selling pirated and counterfeit goods, and expeditious judicial dispositions for IPR infringement and imposition of deterrent-level sentences, is needed.

The US has been encouraged by the recent passage of the Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Act 2008 that will increase penalties for spurious and adulterated pharmaceuticals, the report said.