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IPA slams US over charges on Indian patent law

Says, America can go to WTO's dispute settlement mechanism

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) has contested US allegations that India's patent Act is discriminatory and said America can go to WTO's dispute settlement mechanism if such is the case.

An industry body comprising mainly domestic drugmakers, IPA said several US have substantially increased revenues and market capitalisation in India since 2005 when the patent laws were amended in conformity with the WTO's agreement on intellectual property rights (i.E TRIPs).

"If the US believes that Section 3(d) in the Indian Patents Act is violative of the TRIPs Agreement, the remedy is in triggering the dispute resolution mechanism," IPA has said.

Several American lawmakers and pharma industry players have raised concerns over India's patent act particularly Section 3(d), which restricts patents for already known drugs unless the new claims are superior in terms of efficacy.

If a country feels that a provision or policy of another nation discriminates against its companies, it can challenge that under WTO's dispute settlement system.

Responding to a letter from Pfizer's Chief Intellectual Property Counsel Roy F Waldron, who alleged that "local Indian generic have benefited from anti-patent decisions taken by the Indian government", IPA said the country's policy is "consistent with India's obligations under TRIPS agreement".

In his response, IPA Secretary General D G Shah said India has a clear perspective of the value of innovation, the role of intellectual property and the importance of the rule of law.

In fact, India's patent law has remained unchanged since it was amended in 2005 to comply with the requirements of the TRIPs agreement.

"There have been neither changes in policy or law since early 2002 nor have there have been actions inconsistent with established policy and law," IPA added.

Denying that US have been targeted, Shah said: "We are not aware of any provision in India's patent law that discriminates against US companies or, for that matter, any company based on its domicile for the grant, refusal of patents."

It would have made no difference to the litigation around Sutent or the rejection of patent for Gleevec, if the patentee happened to be an Indian company, he added.

Shah also said US' own patent laws are hurting that country itself, citing a statement of Eric Goldman from the Santa Clara University School of Law, who said that there was a growing consensus that the current patent system was slowing down the US economy.

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First Published: Sun, August 25 2013. 16:50 IST