US, India Trade Ministers Agree List Of IP Enforcement Actions For India, USTR Says 20/10/2016 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a 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)United States Trade Representative Michael Froman and Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman met in Delhi today and discussed various bilateral issues including intellectual property rights. Based on the release from the meeting, it appears much of the IP focus was on tasks for India to do to better protect IP rights. The joint statement from the India-United States Trade Policy Forum is available here. The ministers addressed four main issues: Agriculture, trade in services and goods, intellectual property, and promoting investment in manufacturing. The intellectual property section of the release is relatively extensive, and details progress and further work for India in areas such as: reducing patent and trademark application pendency in India, increased IP workforce and streamlining of procedures in India, strong protection of copyright in the Indian entertainment industry and changes to India’s copyright administration, new measures for India to better protect trade secrets, and India’s effort to re-examine guidelines for computer-related inventions applications. They also agreed to talk more in the future about geographical indications and trademarks, a top global issue for the US. For the US, there was a mention of also protecting copyright in the entertainment sector, the use of India’s Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, and recent legislation to protect trade secrets. There was an overarching theme that “trade, intellectual property and innovation policies” play an important role in access to health and affordable medicines for the poorest populations in both countries. No details were given on how this is the case. India is the world’s leading producer of less expensive generic medicines. [Update: the Indian newspaper The Hindu reported that in a press conference afterward, Sitharaman gave a different account of the meeting, stating that she had stood up to the USTR.] Below is the full section of the USTR press release on intellectual property. Intellectual Property Minister Sitharaman and Ambassador Froman welcomed the enhanced engagement on intellectual property rights (IPR) under the High Level Working Group on Intellectual Property, and reaffirmed their commitment to use this dialogue to continue to make concrete progress on IPR issues. They praised the engagement on intellectual property (IP) and reviewed the results of the dialogues on copyrights, trade secrets, patents, genetic resources, traditional knowledge and the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), standard essential patents and IP policies that took place in 2016. Both countries emphasized the role of robust and balanced IPR protection in fostering creativity, promoting innovation, and attracting investment, taking into account the interests of all stakeholders, including the public. Minister Sitharaman and Ambassador Froman reiterated the goal of ensuring the poorest populations in India and the United States have access to quality healthcare, and recognised the important role that trade, intellectual property and innovation policies play in enhancing access to quality health and affordable medicines for the public at large. Ambassador Froman welcomed India’s on-going efforts to reduce pendency and strengthen the IP regime in India through its National IPR Policy and other measures like increasing technical manpower and streamlining procedures. He praised the Government of India’s consideration of a broad range of viewpoints in drafting the National IPR Policy, and urged a transparent notice and comment process to implement and evaluate the Policy. Minister Sitharaman reiterated India’s resolve to bring down pendency in patent and trademark applications, for which various concrete steps like augmentation of technical manpower and simplification of patent procedures have already been taken. She also emphasized that the Policy is being implemented through various actionable points to foster creativity and innovation in the country. Recognizing the shared interest of the most robust entertainment industries in the world to promote and protect their artistic and creative content, both countries praised the intensified cooperation on copyright in 2016, including the workshop on copyright policies and implementation held in Washington in April and agreed to continue deeper engagement on copyrights, including holding a follow-on workshop in India in 2017. Ambassador Froman also welcomed DIPP’s new role in copyright administration. Minister Sitharaman reiterated the importance of the Copyright Board and expressed hope that it would be functional by the second quarter of 2017. Both countries voiced concern about the unauthorized recording, including camcording, of films in cinemas and copyright piracy on websites. India highlighted positive reforms relating to anti-camcording measures proposed in forthcoming amendments to the existing Indian Cinematograph Act. Both sides noted proactive steps initiated at the Indian state level to combat piracy. The Ministers also commended the trade secrets workshop convened with government officials, academics, legal experts and representatives from U.S. and Indian industry in Delhi in 2016 that facilitated the exchange of information and best practices on trade secrets protection in both countries. The United States highlighted the May 2016 ratification of the Defend Trade Secrets Act in the United States, which, along with the Economic Espionage Act, provide federal causes of action for both civil and criminal enforcement against trade secrets misappropriation. India noted that it protects trade secrets through a common law approach. Ambassador Froman and Minister Sitharaman were appreciative of the full exchange of views by participants and the identification of next steps in this regard. They reiterated their commitment to strong protection of trade secrets in their respective countries and to continue engagement on effective trade secret protection mechanisms. A toolkit would be prepared for industry, especially SMEs, to highlight applicable laws and policies that may enable them to protect their trade secrets in India. A training module for judicial academies on trade secrets may also be considered. A further study on various legal approaches to protection of trade secrets will also be undertaken by India. With respect to the patent regime, both sides affirmed the importance of transparency, predictability, speed, clarity and streamlining of procedures and will continue to have discussions and share best practices to promote these goals. Minister Sitharaman appreciated the United States for the use of the Indian Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) in patent search examination. Both sides agreed to continue cooperation on use of TKDL. With respect to computer-related inventions (CRI), Minister Sitharaman noted that India has set up a Committee to re-examine the guidelines on examination of CRI patent applications, and expressed hope that a final decision would be taken soon in this regard consistent with Indian law. The healthy discussions in 2016 helped provide greater transparency and deeper understanding of IPR issues in both countries, and lay the foundation for further work in 2017. Both sides reaffirmed the need to continue the exchange of best practices and information on issues being discussed, as well as other issues of interest including Geographical Indications and trademarks. 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