NGOs urge PM to ‘resist pressure’ from U.S. on IPRs

by Prasad Krishna last modified Jun 04, 2016 04:16 AM
Govt. to ensure transparency on engagements with the U.S. on IPR

The article was published in the Hindu on June 2, 2016.

A group of civil society organisations has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ‘resist,’ what they termed, “pressure from the U.S. and the pharmaceutical multinationals based there to amend India’s Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) laws”.

The appeal comes ahead of Mr. Modi’s U.S. trip next week when the issue of greater protection and enforcement of IPR may come up for discussions. The group also wanted the NDA Government to ensure transparency regarding its engagements with the U.S. on IPR issues by tabling a White Paper in Parliament.

They said the recently announced National IPR Policy “sees the generation of IPRs as an end in itself. However, in reality, promotion of IPRs has not only limited the ability of developing countries to obtain critical technologies for their economic and social development but has also seriously impacted their peoples’ lives by making essential goods such as medicines, seeds, and textbooks unaffordable.”

In a letter, the organisations urged the Prime Minister to reconsider the implementation of the IPR Policy and send it back to the drawing board.

Group members

The civil society groups include Forum Against FTAs, Third World Network, National Working Group on Patent Laws, Gene Campaign, New Trade Union Initiative, Navdanya, Software Freedom Law Centre, Centre for Internet and Society, Lawyers Collective, All Indian Drug Action Network and Initiative for Health & Equity in Society.

The IPR Policy would send a clear message to Washington that India’s intellectual property rights regime is not regressive, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said recently.

Ms. Sitharaman, however, said India does not recognise “unilateral measures” such as the U.S. Special 301 Report that tried to create pressure on countries to enhance IPR protection beyond the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of IPRs (TRIPS). The Report had retained India on the ‘Priority Watch List’ in 2016 for not addressing “long-standing and systemic deficiencies in its (India’s) IPR regime.”

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