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Civil Society groups urge State Judicial Academy to restructure agenda for Judges' Roundtable meet

by Prasad Krishna last modified Apr 02, 2011 10:47 AM
Some of the Civil Society groups in the country have urged the Maharashtra State Judicial Academy to restructure the agenda for the 'Judges Roundtable on Intellectual Property Rights Adjudication' being held in Mumbai on July 24 and 25 to promote public interest and a deeper understanding of intellectual property amongst judicial officers. FICCI is the joint organiser of the event.

In a letter to justice Dr D Y Chandrachud, director (Officiating), Maharashtra State Judicial Academy, the Civil Society groups said that the industry associations like FICCI and CII are primarily known for their lobbying activities towards greater IP protection. Therefore it is not proper for Judicial Academies to collaborate with such organisations without ensuring that the agenda that is set does not promote a biased view. While industry input is necessary, such one-sided collaborations will result in marginalisation of public interest in the IP enforcement
adjudication.

The agenda clearly shows that one side view of IPR and ignores the core concerns emerging out of IPR protection and enforcement related to access to knowledge and access to medicines. Except three academics, all other resource persons outside of the judicial fraternity are from corporate IP law firms and industry associations. The agenda failed to provide a balanced view on IP protection and enforcement, they said.

The letter further said that it is very clear from the agenda and the list of speakers of the roundtable that it is highly skewed, and that there is no balancing of viewpoints that the judicial officers are being presented with. Many of the speakers, who are from corporate law firms, have openly, in public, advocated against public interest provisions of the Indian Patent Act, such as s.3(d) which seeks to prevent evergreening of pharmaceutical patents or s.3(k) which seeks to prevent basic building blocks of technology and business like mathematics,
business methods, and software, from being patented.

Moreover, many of the lawyers have made attempts to import the jurisprudence of developed countries in the matters relating to the enforcement of IPRs, too often with success. Anton Piller orders, which are no longer prevalent in the UK, have been imported into India and modified to even allowing for lock-breaking. This very idea of adhering to foreign jurisprudence on the matters of IPR is highly opposed to the development of indigenous jurisprudence. We feel that jurisprudence of a country should be based on the developmental issues and contexts at the domestic level.

Further, at least four resource persons represent the industry associations like Indian music Industry (IMI), Business Software Alliances (BSA) and The Film & Television Producers Guild of India Ltd. These associations have been actively advocating for IP enforcement law and policies at the national and international level, which undermine the public interest. Hence, these resource people are not in a position to provide a holistic perspective on IP protection and its enforcement, the Civil Society groups contended.

“In the interest of equity and justice, we urge you to take appropriate actions, including requiring the sensitization programme to be balanced both from an industry perspective as well as from a developmental perspective. The Maharashtra State Judicial Academy's collaboration with FICCI does not seem to do either, and instead specific narrow interests seem to be promoted in the form of a sensitization programme. We urge you restructure the agenda to avoid this capture of interest and to actually promote public interest and a deeper understanding of
intellectual property amongst judicial officers,” they said.

This article by Ramesh Shankar appeared in Pharmabiz.

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