14 October 2014Americas

US launches new review into Indian IP regime

The US government has launched a new investigation into India’s IP regime just weeks after a meeting between the country’s new prime minister and US President Barack Obama.

The US Trade Representative (USTR) is conducting an ‘out-of-cycle review’ into the country’s system for protecting IP rights.

It follows an annual report released earlier this year by the USTR that assessed US trading partners’ efforts to protect IP.

The Special 301 Report, released in May, put India on a ‘priority watch list’ and said there were “serious questions” surrounding the future of innovation there.

At the time it said it would conduct a new review “in the coming months” to “further encourage progress” on issues of concern.

According to The Economic Times newspaper, the new review will start today (October 14).

Among the most serious issues already highlighted by the report in May was the attitude towards pharmaceutical patents.

It referenced Section 3(d) of India’s Patent Act, which says that “the mere discovery of a new form of a known substance which does not result in the enhancement of the known efficacy of that substance” is not considered to be an invention.

The USTR said the law could “limit the patentability” of potentially beneficial innovations.

India’s prime minister and leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party Narendra Modi, who was elected earlier this year, visited Obama last month to discuss how the two nations could move forward.

During the visit, LSIPR reported, healthcare advocate Médecins Sans Frontières urged Modi not to alter IP laws that can allow for the production of cheaper generic medicines.

The USTR will also perform out-of-cycle reviews of Kuwait and Paraguay’s IP systems. Both were included in the less severe ‘watch list’ category in the 301 report.

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