WIPO Hails India’s Accession To Trademark System; India Advocates Balance 09/04/2013 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)A full room of country delegates and ambassadors gathered yesterday to celebrate the accession of India to the Madrid Protocol for the International Registration of Marks at the World Intellectual Property Organization. However, beyond the joy of accession, the recent decision of the Indian Supreme Court on a Novartis drug patent loomed in the room. WIPO convened a high-level policy dialogue on the occasion, welcoming Anand Sharma, Indian minister for commerce and industry on 8 April. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said the accession of India to the Madrid Protocol for the International Registration of Marks was of great significance for WIPO. India, he said, is the fourth fastest growing economy in the world, the second most populous with 1.2 billion people, and the fourth economy in terms of purchasing power. The accession of India, Gurry said, signals India’s greater engagement with the global IP community and is also a “very important endorsement of multilateralism, and this at a time when many other solutions are being tried and tested, but when nevertheless we have an increasing globalised marketplace which requires global rules and global support systems for that marketplace.” Sharma: “We have aligned ourselves completely ever since the multilateral treaties were agreed to and signed by India.” (Photo Credit: Catherine Saez, IP-Watch) The Madrid system, Gurry said, is “the centrepiece” of the world trademark system and has been undergoing “a major expansion” in the last 12 months, with Colombia, Mexico, New Zealand and the Philippines acceding to the instrument. India is the 90th member of the system, he said. Trademark applications in India have doubled in India in the last 10 years, said Gurry, adding that India passed Brazil in 2006, and passed Japan and South Korea in 2011. Some 90 percent of trademarks applications are filed by residents in India, and the Madrid system will offer Indian enterprises and traders a “great possibility of internationalising this considerable volume of trademark applications that are being made domestically,” he said. For other countries, it will increase their entry into the Indian market “which is a market which attracts the attention of everyone in the world.” For WIPO, it reinforces the importance of the Madrid system, “which will become in the course of the next 5 to 10 years the world’s leading branding system and resource.” Minister: India Is Innovative, Respectful of International Obligations The accession to the Madrid system is an important step that has been taken, “completely in sync with India’s thinking and approach on IP rights,” Sharma said. It is creating an environment which facilitates the registration of trademarks and IP rights, he added. It is also important for the Indian business entities “who are enlarging their footprints in all continents,” he said. India, which has always valued innovation and has declared this the “decade of innovation,” Sharma said, has amended its IP legislation twice, most recently in 2005. And it fully conforms to all the treaty obligations and best global practices, he said. Frugal Innovations, Balance Needed in IP System In the current context, according to Sharma, India is the creator of major but frugal innovations. He cited a battery-operated refrigerator developed by one of the leading Indian corporations that costs US$70, a water purification system that sells US$4, and electronic tablets for schoolchildren available for US$35. He added that India had developed other instruments such as ultrasound technology for 1/20th of the cost of what they would be in developed countries, saying that this was also the case with many vaccines and medicines. Looking at those frugal innovations, he said they did not conflict with science, laws or established international practices, protocols or agreements. India believes not only in developing technologies which are adaptable and affordable, but in making sure that they are made available to other countries who need affordable technology so that they can overcome the historical burden, he said. Joining the Madrid system is “a strong reaffirmation of India’s commitment and an abiding one” not only to trademark protection, he said. However, he added that the right balance should be found. He said in the context of India’s new national manufacturing policy, the country was establishing a technology acquisition fund where patented technologies will be acquired and made available to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises that do not have the resources to buy those patented technologies. Hundreds of millions of people are victims of life-threatening diseases and their nations cannot have adequate budgets to ensure that life-saving medicines are available at affordable prices, he said. There comes a point, he said, “a threshold where the intellect of the world must also then be used to protect human lives and for the common good.” “This is what we need to do together in WIPO” and in other fora so that “we move forward in a correct manner,” he said. Belgium, taking the floor at the high-level panel on behalf of the Group B developed countries, congratulated India on its accession to the Madrid Protocol but said enforcement of intellectual property rights should apply to all areas of intellectual property, and cover all sectors, including the pharmaceutical one. Novartis Questions for Minister at Press Conference After the high-level panel, Sharma answered questions from journalists, most of which related to the recent decision by the Indian Supreme Court denying a patent for the Novartis cancer medicine Glivec (IPW, Public Health, 1 April 2013). Sharma said that India fully respects its international obligations, including when it comes to the registration of patents, including in the pharmaceutical sector. Indian patent laws are fully aligned with the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspect of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and patent laws in other countries, he said. He recalled that the Novartis case went through the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) which is an authority independent from the government and chaired by a judge. The case then went to a high court where it was upheld and then went to the Supreme Court of India, which examined patent laws, the TRIPS agreement, and the reasons for the denial and found them justified, he said. It was not an executive decision or a government decision, he noted. Novartis is the third largest beneficiary of patents registration in India, he said. Roche has 166 patents registered on pharmaceuticals, Sanofi has 159 and Novartis 147. Why is India not being respected for granting 147 patents to Novartis, rather than targeted when the Indian judiciary has denied one, he asked. India is the largest producer of generics in the world, he said, adding that generics are not imitations but effective treatments. India exports its generic drugs to all countries and regions of the world. And, he said, the largest importer of its generic medicines is the United States. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."WIPO Hails India’s Accession To Trademark System; India Advocates Balance" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.