[Joint Letter from 12 American NGOs] We write as American organizations in advance of your trip to India this month to ask you to support India’s central role in providing high-quality, low-cost generic medicines—which are essential for health care around the world. Recent U.S. policy stances have sought to topple parts of India’s intellectual property regime that protect public health in order to advance the interests of multinational pharmaceutical corporations in longer, stronger, and broader exclusive patent and related monopoly rights. India’s laws fully comply with the WTO TRIPS Agreement. Millions around the world depend on affordable generic medicines that would disappear if India acceded to these proposals, including many beneficiaries of US-funded programs. Instead of using your trip to promote the narrow interests of one segment of the pharmaceutical industry, we ask you to support the interests of people who need affordable medicines, whether they live in the U.S., in India, in Africa or elsewhere. Our world is safer and healthier because of India’s pro-health stance and we ask you to say so publicly while you are there.
[Updated Jan 5] The U.S. International Trade Commission has released its report on Indian trade, investment and industrial policies, including but not limited to intellectual property rights. The full report is here and the the press release is here.
The report was based on “a survey of U.S. companies doing business in India; a quantitative analysis of the effects on the U.S. economy; and qualitative research, including a hearing and fieldwork, to produce case studies and examples that help illustrate effects of the policies on particular companies or industries.”
[Cross posted from TWN, Link] Several civil society organisations and individuals have expressed earnest concerns over the India-United States Joint Working Group on Intellectual Property.
A collective sign-on letter from more than 50 organisations, networks and individuals to India’s Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi sets out the concerns over the decision to establish the Working Group that was announced in a US-India Joint Statement dated 30 September 2014. The letter urges the Prime Minister to approach the intellectual property (IP) issue with a “holistic perspective rather the narrow confines of trade and economic policy”.
[Cross posted from Equilibri.net] U.S. business interests and government officials are trying to sell the idea that heightened intellectual property protections in India are essential to foreign investment, innovation, and achievement of public health goals.
Instead, heightened intellectual property rights will make India consumers captive to Big Pharma’s extortionate pricing….
Unfortunately, the joint communiqué issued at the end of Prime Minister Modi’s US visit shows deference by the US and Indian governments to Big Pharma’s pressure…
[September 23, 2014] We, the undersigned organisations and individuals, understand that ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled visit to the United States, the government has decided to review India’s positions on intellectual property rights (IPRs). We are concerned about the timing that has been chosen to undertake a Ministry-level exercise on India’s IPR policy and apprehend the proposed exercise could become a hostage to the pressures of the US government and companies.
[International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, Link] US-India trade ties have continued to worsen in recent weeks, with Indian Trade Minister Anand Sharma accusing Washington this week of “high and unacceptable protectionism.” The remarks from New Delhi’s top trade official comes after months fraught with tension, with the two sides openly sparring on topics ranging from renewable energy policies to patent protections.
[South Centre News Service, Link] The South Centre calls on WTO Members to Respect the Legitimacy of the Use of TRIPS Flexibilities for Public Health in light of new threats of unilateral trade measures by the United States against India over its Intellectual Property Laws and Regulations
This morning, Sen. Orrin Hatch spoke about international intellectual property issues at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He was the keynote at the organization’s launch of the second edition of its Global Intellectual Property Index. A video of the event is here, and Sen. Hatch takes the podium at 9:45.
Sen. Hatch argued that American history has shown strong intellectual property (IP) leads to prosperity. Research has shown that increased IP leads all countries to enjoy greater foreign direct investment, technology transfer and innovation. However, the “lesson is lost” in the developing world where countries try to develop through “short cuts” that “undermine” and “steal” U.S. innovation. India is the biggest battlefront, and Indian compulsory licenses based on nonworking are a big problem. Hatch warned that nothing in India’s patent laws limit compulsory licenses to pharmaceuticals, and he warned that other fields of technology such as cell phones or jets could be subject to compulsory licenses too.
Last week, The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) submitted a report to Congress on the state of China’s compliance with WTO rules, including those on intellectual property (the TRIPS Agreement). The report states that “China has established a framework of laws, regulations and departmental rules that largely satisfies its WTO commitment.” [p.17] However, USTR wants China to strengthen laws that exceed the level required by TRIPS, and the report describes its efforts to strengthen the laws, and the enforcement of those laws, especially online.
Last Thursday the Energy and Commerce committee of the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing entitled, “A Tangle of Trade Barriers: How India’s Industrial Policy is Hurting US Companies.” The hearing is part of a recent big business push which aims to support specific industry complaints against India by lumping them together, in order to claim that India is generally flouting international rules. The strategy could benefit Big Pharma by diverting attention away from access to medicines concerns.
Today a Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on the topic: “A Tangle of Trade Barriers: How India’s Industrial Policy is Hurting U.S. Companies.” Much of the hearing focused on intellectual property and pharmaceuticals, though other issues such as SOEs and subsides to local solar power firms were also discussed. All of the Committee Members who asked about IP – with the exception Henry Waxman – seemed to accept as a matter of fact that India’s use of compulsory licenses and restriction on patentability were a barrier to trade and a possible trade violation.
On June 18, 2013, 170 Members of Congress wrote to President Obama complaining about Indian trade policy and more particularly India’s intellectual property “climate.” Under the umbrella of claiming that policies of the Government of India favor domestic producers over U.S. Exporters – in other words, that India is protectionist – the Members of Congress claimed that “the intellectual property (IP) climate has become increasingly challenging in India.”