US defence giants back Indias IPR regime as Big Pharma frets

Written by Huma Siddiqui | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 12 2014, 07:27am hrs
PharmaThe two companies made their submissions to the Special 301 hearing held in the office of the USTR in Washington that related specifically to India.
At a time when Washington is considering trade sanctions against New Delhi for 'ineffective' Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) regime, two of America's major defence and civil aviation firms, Honeywell and Boeing, have come out strongly in support of India's IPR regulations.

Giving a much-needed shot in the arm to India's counter to the US allegations of an inadequate IPR regime, Honeywell, in a submission filed before the US Trade Representative, said: "Our experience is that an acceptable IPR legal framework exists in India with laws and regulations that are comparable to IPR regulations in other developed countries.

Boeing said, Indian IPR laws applicable to the range of Boeing's business activities in India are comparable to IPR regulations in other developed countries, as India is a signatory to all major conventions and treaties on this subject.

The two companies made their submissions to the Special 301 hearing held in the office of the USTR in Washington that related specifically to India. Special 301 is an annual review process led by the office of the United States Trade Representative. US trade law requires an annual review of intellectual property protection and market access practices in foreign countries.

Honeywell and Boeing are among the biggest beneficiaries of the Indian defence and civil market.

America had recently threatened to include India in the Priority Foreign Country list for IPR. As per the definition of the US Trade Act, a priority foreign country is a classification given to those that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights or fair and equitable market access to the US persons relying on IPR protection.

The US has accused India of reviewing up to a dozen patented drugs to see if compulsory licences, which in effect break exclusivity rights, can be issued for some of them. The US is also unhappy with Section 3(d) in India's Patents Act that regulates patenting of incremental pharmaceutical inventions by stipulating that patents can be granted only if the modified product enhances the efficacy profile of the drug substantially compared with the previous version.

Air India, Jet Airways, Spice Jet have been long standing customers of Beoing Commercial Airplanes in India and continue to ink major contracts with the company. On the defence side Boeing has secured major contracts in a very short time. India has purchased eight Boeing P-8I long range maritime reconnaissance and anti submarine aircraft in 2009.

In June 2011, MoD signed an agreement with the US government to acquire 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III airlifters, the largest ever defence contract signed by India with the US. The US company is currently at the final stages of negotiations for two large rotorcraft contracts for the Apache and Chinook helicopters.

The company is the single largest producer by dollar value of US exports to India. Since 2005, it has secured contracts from India worth tens of billions of dollars, which is creating and will sustain at least an estimated 180,000 US jobs in a high-skill, high-value industry over the delivery period of the various contracts.

Honeywell's four businessaerospace, automation and control solutions, transportation systems and performance materials and technologies are active in India. The company has 12,000 plus people in India and more than $ one billion in domestic sales and exports. Even Doctors Without Borders, an international NGO, has come out in support of India. Every country has the right to take steps to increase access to medicines and implement a patent system in line with its public health needs. We strongly object to the pressure exerted by the US on developing countries, including India, for using legal flexibilities to protect public health, Rohit Malpani of the Doctors Without Borders has told the USTR.