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Asserting that substantial and consistent progress overall has been made by India, including in addressing concerns related to intellectual property, a top Indian pharma body has urged the US Trade Representative to considering removing the country from its Priority Watch List. "It is now clear that substantial and consistent progress has been made by India and overall, Indian laws relating to patents and their application do not deny adequate and effective protection of IPR, nor do they deny fair and equitable market access to the US pharmaceutical industry which relies on intellectual property protection," the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) said. "We urge the USTR to consider the removal of India from the Priority Watch List. It would be encouraging recognition of the strides that India has made in promoting, protecting and enforcing IPR and sustain its forward momentum," the IPA said in its 2018 Special-301 submission to the US Trade Representative (USTR). India is among 11 countries that have been placed on the Priority Watch List in the 2017 Special-301 Report. In its submission, the IPA gave Indian perspectives and information to USTR reflecting on the progress being made by India that may aid the USTR in determining whether India denies adequate and effective protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) or denies fair and equitable market access to the US pharmaceutical industry. "We are not aware of abusive patent opposition proceedings or material disadvantage to US companies because of patent oppositions.
We are not aware of denial of timely injunctions in 2016 and 2017 before the launch of a follow-on generic when a patent for the product is in force and the patented product is in the market," it said. The IPA said there been no grant of compulsory licence in the last five years nor any revocation of patents under Section 66. The administrative improvements in patent issue and enforcement demonstrated in 2015 and 2016 have been sustained and accelerated in 2017. Adequate examiners are now in place and the pace of examination of patents has noticeably improved, it said, adding, trademark examination time has been drastically reduced to one month. In its submission, the IPA noted that the Economic Survey 2017-18 tabled in Parliament on January 29 recognises that patents are an incentive for innovation and underscored the importance of clearing the backlog as "the inordinate delays in processing patents penalises innovation and innovators within the country". "Given the attention that is paid to clearing the backlog at the highest levels of government, we are optimistic that the government will meet its goal of bringing down the examination time from the current 5-7 years to 18 months and reduce the backlog as expeditiously as possible," the IPA said.