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Protection of intellectual property rights: US retains India on watchlist

To be subject to intense bilateral engagement along with six other countries on the list

United States Trade Representative

United States Trade Representative

Shreya Nandi New Delhi

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The United States Trade Representative (USTR) has retained India in the ‘Priority Watchlist’ and said that the country remains one of the world’s “most challenging” major economies with respect to protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. 

Six other countries – China, Russia, Indonesia, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela – continue to remain on the list. These countries will be the subject of particularly intense bilateral engagement in the coming year.

In its Special 301 report, which is an annual review of the global state of intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement, USTR said that over the past year, India has remained inconsistent in its progress on IP protection and enforcement. Besides, patent issues continue to be of particular concern in India.

“Although India has worked to strengthen its IP regime, including raising public awareness of the importance of IP, and engagement with the United States on IP issues has increased, there continues to be a lack of progress on long-standing IP concerns raised in prior Special 301 Reports,” the USTR said.

The trade agency has alleged that India’s overall IP enforcement remains inadequate and trademark counterfeiting continues to remain problematic.

Apart from that, it said, the potential threat of patents being revoked, lack of presumption of patent validity, and the narrow patentability criteria under the Indian Patents Act impact companies across different sectors. 

“Moreover, patent applicants continue to confront costly and time-consuming pre- and post-grant oppositions, long waiting periods to receive patent grants, and excessive reporting requirements. Stakeholders continue to express concerns over vagueness in the interpretation of the Indian Patents Act,” it said.

Although India has been justifying limiting IP protections as a way to promote access to technologies, it imposes customs duties on IP-intensive products such as medical devices, pharmaceuticals, information and communications technology products, solar energy equipment, and capital goods, the report said.

While India's draft Digital Personal Data Protection Bill has taken steps to address concerns from the previous draft regarding intellectual property protection, right holders remain concerned with the concise language of the Bill. “Problematic issues may be reintroduced at the rule-making stage after the Bill is enacted,” the report said.

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First Published: Apr 27 2023 | 10:43 AM IST

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