As the US retained India on its Priority Watch List of ten countries with “growing concerns” about protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), a US-India business advocacy group called for a dialogue on the issue.
“It is imperative that industry and the Governments of both countries come together to discuss this issue in a reasoned and respectful manner,” said Diane Farrell, acting president of US-India Business Council (USIBC) comprised of 300 of the top-tier US and Indian companies.
“Do we have concerns regarding IPR in India? Yes. Going forward, is acrimony the answer? Absolutely not,” she said in a statement Wednesday on the release of the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) annual “Special 301” report on IPR.
“It is time to open up the lines of communication and address the challenges directly. USIBC looks forward to working with both the US Government and the Government of India to facilitate a constructive and mutually beneficial dialogue,” Farrell said.
While USIBC has concerns over IPR, the Council has made it clear that engagement with the Government of India to address problems is the best way forward, she said noting this approach has led to a strong strategic partnership and $100 billion in two-way trade.
“Both sides have valid concerns on this issue but we are confident that these two great democracies have the will and the determination to find a compromise that looks beyond the short-term compulsions towards their long-term strategic objectives,” Farrell added.
The larger US Chamber of Commerce, on the other hand, said it was “encouraged that USTR recognizes the growing concerns with India’s deteriorating IP environment, and support the decision to initiate an ‘out-of-cycle’ review of India.”
“We hope that this step will generate much needed dialogue for the US and Indian governments to address the concerns identified in the Report,” said Mark Elliot, Executive Vice President of the chamber’s global intellectual property centre (GIPC).
“We look forward to working with the next Government of India to promote a robust IP climate,” he said.
Releasing the report, USTR Michael Froman said India and nine other countries on the priority watch list “will be the subject of particularly intense bilateral engagement during the coming year.”
In the case of India, USTR said it will publish a Federal Register notice and initiate an Out-of-Cycle Review (OCR) of India in the fall of 2014, commencing an assessment of the progress in that engagement.
Issues highlighted in the USTR report on India concern copyright and piracy, patents & regulatory data protection, trademarks and counterfeiting, trade secrets and localization trends.
Analysts noted that the US had avoided escalating a trade war with New Delhi by not branding India as a “priority foreign country” – the worst offender of IPR issue – as pressed by American domestic business particularly the big pharmaceutical lobby.
In keeping India on the Priority Watch List, the USTR said it recognizes not only the listed concerns, “but also the critical role that meaningful, constructive, and effective engagement between India and the United States should play in resolving these concerns.”
“Serious difficulties in attaining constructive engagement on issues of concern to US and other stakeholders have contributed to India’s challenging environment for IPR protection and enforcement,” it said.
“In the coming months, the United States will redouble its efforts to seek opportunities for meaningful, sustained, and effective engagement on IP-related matters with the new government,” USTR said.