Houston Chronicle: Protect U.S. intellectual property

Houston Chronicle: Protect U.S. intellectual property
July 28, 2013
By Randall Popelka

At a global level, protection of the U.S. economy begins with protection of corporate intellectual property. According to the U.S. Global Intellectual Property Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, intellectual property creates more than 55 million jobs across America, representing nearly 5 million jobs in Texas alone.

Intellectual property theft abroad is job loss here in the U.S. If U.S. policymakers and diplomats are serious about their stated intentions to protect American jobs, it begins with protection of our intellectual property.

Yet some of our closest economic and military allies remain distant on intellectual property protection. India, a major trading partner of the U.S., continues to enable a deteriorating environment for intellectual property within its borders.

Multiple industries, including the recording, motion picture, software, energy and pharmaceutical industries, all of which are dependent on cooperative intellectual property protection, have expressed serious concern over India’s policies.

Take the recent ruling of India’s Supreme Court in a pharmaceutical patent case, for example. In April, the Supreme Court of India denied a patent to Novartis for their cancer drug, Gleevic. While some argued that the cost of the medication was out of reach for many Indians, in fact, Novartis was providing Gleevic for free to 95 percent of India’s patients – and the other 5 percent were heavily subsidized. The true effect of the court’s decision, therefore, was not to improve access to the medicine. Instead, it simply allows generic producers in India – the world’s largest supplier of generic medicines – to duplicate the drug and sell it for their own profit.

Disregard for the intellectual property rights, as this example illustrates, will likely give innovative companies pause before investing in India. Ironically, India’s efforts to position itself as the “pharmacy to the developing world” by abusing American intellectual property only serves as a disincentive to the very pharmaceutical innovation that could potentially cure long-term global health threats. As a major trade partner and U.S. ally in an unstable region surrounded by Pakistan and China, India should reconsider policies that are increasingly damaging to the U.S. economy.

While according to a recent Gallup Poll, India is viewed favorably by over 70 percent of Americans, America’s acceptance of policies that violate our intellectual property rights should be one of zero tolerance.

This is purely a diplomatic issue and resides with the current administration’s dialogues with India. However, Congress needs to continue to pressure the administration to raise intellectual property theft to the highest levels of diplomatic discussions.

Efforts like those of U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, Republican representative of Texas’ 8th Congressional District, help to call attention to this issue. Recently Brady, along with more than 170 other members of Congress, fired off a letter to President Obama calling the president’s attention to this matter. The letter was signed by Democrats and Republicans representing a bipartisan and broad swath of America from Miami to Seattle.

Congressman Brady’s success in uniting Congress at a time when partisan turbulence is at an unprecedented high is a credit to his leadership. Let us hope that the efforts of leaders like Congressman Brady are successful in persuading our Indian partners to respect the intellectual property rights that are critical to economic growth – both for India and the United States.

Read More: http://www.chron.com/opinion/outlook/article/Protect-U-S-intellectual-property-4689911.php