Embassy Archives What's New/Press Releases

Letter written by Ambassador Nirupama Rao on India's Intellectual Property Regime, to both the members of the Senate India Caucus and to the members of the House of Representative Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans

"Following is the text of a letter sent by Ambassador  Nirupama Rao to members of the House India Caucus and Senate India Caucus on  India's Intellectual property regime on 20 June 2013"

As a member of the Senate India Caucus you have always been a staunch advocate of strong India-U.S. relations and our strategic partnership.  We are deeply appreciative of your commitment to further the cause of friendship between our countries.

2.         In recent days, concerns have been raised by members of the U.S. Congress on India's commitments regarding intellectual property protection.  I felt that I should write to you to explain the Government of India's approach to the issue.

3.         India has a well-settled, stable and robust intellectual property regime.  The three main pillars of this regime are comprehensive laws, detailed rules to back them up, and strong enforcement mechanisms, including for dispute resolution.  In India, the IP framework is rooted in law. The full complement of our laws on patents, designs, trademarks and geographical indications is in place and these are in compliance with the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) of WTO.  The India Patents Act specifically, is one of the most comprehensive acts, and is rigorously enforced.  The award of patents is a transparent legal process with decisions and processes subject to legal scrutiny.

4.         It is understood that the highest share (20-30%) of all patents granted in India has gone to U.S. nationals and corporations.  And, of all the patents granted for pharmaceutical inventions between 2005 and 2011, more than 85% were owned by foreign companies in India.  This trend would show that the provisions of the Indian Patents Act related to pharmaceutical products are fair and unbiased.  The Act does not discriminate between Indian nationals and others.

5.         There is also much interest in India's use of Compulsory Licensing.  It is important to understand the legal and public health context of such licensing.  I wish to reaffirm that the provisions of the Compulsory License enshrined in the India Patent Act are in accordance with the provisions of the TRIPs Agreement and the Paris Convention.

6.         Through such licensing mechanisms, all Governments balance the rights of the patent holder with their obligations to ensure the validity of patents, availability of the products at a reasonable price, and protection of public health and nutrition.  Since its inception, Compulsory Licensing has been an integral part of the patent regime of different countries.  Globally, 15 different countries, developed and developing alike, have issued more than 35 compulsory licenses.

7.         India has issued only one Compulsory License.  The provisions for Compulsory Licensing are not meant to hamper the process of innovation but to ensure a fair balance between the interests of innovators and the urgent needs of public health in a country with a population of over one billion.

8.         I believe we share a common objective of strengthening the India-U.S. Strategic Partnership including importantly, through deepening mutually beneficial trade and commercial engagement.  The strategic partnership between our two countries must be viewed holistically, and on the basis of the enormous stakes that both our countries have in ensuring that the gains and the progress that we have achieved in building a defining relationship for the 21st century are not seen through any prism that sacrifices long-term interests for the short-term.  Both U.S. and Indian businesses and investments in each other's economies would stand only to benefit from taking a long-term strategic view of this relationship.  My Government stands prepared to resolve issues that arise in the trade and industry domain between our two countries in a spirit of mutual understanding and friendship, always safeguarding the interests of our long-term bilateral and strategic partnership.  In our endeavor to meet this goal, I would welcome the opportunity to engage with you further on these issues and to share our perspectives.  My senior colleagues at the Embassy stand prepared to come and meet with your key officials or your constituents to engage in a friendly and substantive exchange of views so as to promote deeper understanding, and to seek mutually satisfactory solutions, in a spirit of friendship.