New Delhi: India continued to languish at the bottom of a global index of intellectual property (IP) rights in 2016. A recent court order that permitted photocopying of copyrighted books did not help matters either.
India ranked 43 out of 45 countries in the US Chamber of Commerce’s (USCC) annual IP index, just above Pakistan, which was added to the index this year, and Venezuela. Last year, India was placed 37 out of 38 countries. The US continues to be on top of the index.
“Although India has made incremental progress, the government needs to build upon the positive rhetoric of its IPR policy with the substantial legislative reforms that innovators need. Reforms can improve its reputation as a destination for doing business, foreign businesses’ ability to invest in and “Make in India," and India’s own innovative industries," said David Hirschmann, president and CEO of the Global IP Centre, USCC in a press statement.
The index ranked countries based on points received on various aspects of patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and market access, enforcement, and ratification of international treaties.
The national IP policy cleared by the Union cabinet in May 2016 was considered a positive for the index.
“We are cautiously optimistic about the national IPR policy given that the legislative changes follow," Patrick Kilbride, executive director of GIPC, told Mint.
However, USCC said the policy failed to address the fundamental weaknesses in India’s IP framework. It added that IP-intensive industries faced challenges on the patentability of computer-related inventions and Section 3(d) of India’s Patent Act 1970 which relates to restrictions on patenting incremental changes. These concerns were mentioned in the 2016 report as well.
A Delhi high court ruling that permitted photocopying of copyrighted material for educational purposes also featured among the factors that went against India. In September, Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw of the Delhi high court allowed sale of photocopied course packs from copyrighted books.
ALSO READ: DU photocopy case: Delhi HC restores copyright suit by publishers
“The case captured the essence of the challenges seen in the Indian market," Kilbride said.
The ruling was appealed and a two-judge bench said a decision was required on whether such photocopied course packs were being used for their intended purposes. The case is pending.
Senior lawyer Prathiba Singh, who works extensively with IP law dismissed the poor ranking. “The IP index is a work of fiction as it is benchmarked against the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement from which the US walked out. It is also not objective in its assessment of India, especially in four areas of the index—term of protection which is TRIPs—compliant; well-known marks are very well protected; our design protection is in accordance with TRIPs; and border protection measures are brilliant. Looking at it objectively, the overall score for India should be 12.53 which makes it rank 11 out of 45 countries," she said.
According to the report, the 45 countries analysed in the index represent nearly 90% of the global economic output. The fifth edition of the index included seven new countries – Egypt, Hungary, Kenya, Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Spain.