New Delhi: Indian industry Thursday slammed the US for pressurising India to increase its intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, saying such tactics are aimed at protecting its own private corporate interests over the interest of India’s citizens.

“The effort being made to declare India as ‘Priority Foreign Country’ under the Special 301 provision of the US Trade Act of 1974, is a unilateral action to create pressure on India to increase IPR protection beyond the TRIPS Agreement (WTO) and aims to protect private corporate interests over national interests,” the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) said in a statement here.

The US International Trade Commission (USITC) has initiated a probe against India’s  domestic trade and investment policies particularly intellectual property, or patent, laws. At a US Trade Representative (USTR) hearing Feb 24, several US-based organisations recommended that India be designated as a priority foreign country, alleging it lacks adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights.

“Indian policy is not protective towards its domestic industry, but is protective of the interests and welfare of its citizens,” FICCI secretary general A. Didar Singh said with reference to India’s patent laws that include provisions to ensure that intellectual property rights do not hinder the government taking measures for promoting public health and  development.

Pointing out that India has a well-established legislative, administrative and judicial framework to safeguard IPRs, which meets its obligations under the WTO TRIPS agreement on intellectual property, FICCI said: “The two Trade Policy Reviews conducted by WTO in respect of India in 2007 and 2011 have found the Indian IPR regime to be adequate and there has been no mention to the contrary.”

“India has an independent authority and appellate board and courts to decide on due processes,” it added.

In this context, the US threat of unilateral trade sanctions by placing India in a  specific category on its watchlist amounts to undermining the legitimacy of the WTO and its dispute settlement system.

“FICCI and Indian industry is of the view that the investigation is a manifestation of a broader tension between a handful of disgruntled US companies and the Indian government, which has now spread to Capitol Hill (seat of US government),” FICCI said.

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