Photo: Sameer Joshi/Mint
Photo: Sameer Joshi/Mint

Leaked draft only an input to national IPR policy: Amitabh Kant

Industry secretary says that the final policy will be in place in next 30 to 45 days

A leaked version of the final draft of the national intellectual property rights (IPR) policy, which was put up by bloggers on the Internet on Tuesday, is only an input into the IPR policy drafted by the government, said industry secretary Amitabh Kant on Wednesday.

“The think-tank’s report is only an input. We sent it to various departments for comments. Policy is not made by the think-tanks, it is made by the government," he said, adding that the final policy will be in place in next 30 to 45 days.

Though an initial draft of the IPR think-tank, set up by Department Of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), was put on its website for comments, the final version of its draft policy was kept confidential but was leaked on Tuesday.

The leaked draft said the policy aims to foster predictability, clarity and transparency in order to augment research, trade, technology transfer and investment. “It will protect concerns such as public health, food security and environment, and encourage generation and diffusion of knowledge by laying a roadmap for holistic, effective and balanced development of the Indian IP system," it added.

“The policy will also ensure that IP rights are not abused and that implementation and enforcement of IP rights do not adversely affect India’s developmental objectives. Towards this end, the policy will catalyse the full potential of intellectual property for India’s economic growth and socio-cultural development while promoting public interest," it said.

Rohit Malpani, director of policy & analysis at MSF Access Campaign, a non-governmental organization, said it offers some reassurances that the Indian government will continue to use public health flexibilities available under international law that have played a key role in safeguarding India’s status as the pharmacy of the developing world.

But MSF is concerned that the policy indicates a preference for the Indian government to introduce a range of new measures to enhance enforcement of IPR that go far beyond government obligations under the TRIPS agreement (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) of the World Trade Organization.

Malpani said that it may deter generic competition that is critical to ensuring affordable medicines for all. “MSF is also worried that the government seems to frame intellectual property as central to innovation and development in India and beyond. Our experience demonstrates that in many respects, patent rules have often resulted in unaffordable prices for medical tools, as well as a lack of innovation desperately needed for diseases that disproportionately affect people in India and across the developing world," he added.

A comment by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April this year that India needs to bring its patent laws on par with global standards to make India a hub for outsourced creative services was seen by many non-profit organizations as succumbing to US pressure.

In an interview, trade minister Nirmala Sitharaman in June denied any pressure on India on the IPR policy. “On the contrary, in each one of my meetings with the US authorities, I have upfront said we have formed a think-tank, which is forming the IPR policy, every one of the decisions that are being taken is put in the public domain. I myself told the US team, ‘if you are keen to know about our position, please meet up with the think tank’, and they have sent their representative also and have given their views. That’s where it ends," she had said.

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