The Times of India: Under PM Modi Under PM Modi, world feels this is India’s moment – but needs less rhetoric, more reforms and strong Intellectual Property rights: Patrick Kilbride

By Srijana Mitra Das

GIPC’s International IP Index ranks India 37th amongst 38 nations studied. Now, India’s IP Policy is out. What are notable positives and drawbacks?

The establishment of a National IP Policy underscores the importance of innovation and intellectual property protections to India’s economic growth.

While the policy may be light on details, committing to an IP-supported, innovation-driven future is a break from attitudes of the past. We are encouraged by the Policy’s attempt to raise awareness and provide critical resources to targeted communities – this will foster an environment where Indians can innovate, create and benefit from the protections under IP laws.

However, awareness and increased enforcement training cannot themselves fix weak IP laws – current laws unreasonably limit what can be protected and fail to make rights-holders whole due to infringement.

India must address these needs, beginning with online enforcement mechanisms and deterrent-level penalties – if it wishes to drive innovation, protect trade secrets and effectively combat piracy.

Which three industries in India most need IP?

First, the tech space – with Make in India, there’s great attention on the start-up economy too. In entertainment, USA and India share strength with Hollywood and Bollywood. But there’s a need for well-enforced civil and criminal deterrents.

A third is the innovative pharmaceutical industry. Israel had a very competitive generic industry but no competitive innovative industry. It invested in stronger IP laws – over five years, they went from practically zero to a very vigorous innovative industry.

There are sharply divergent views on IP impacting India’s pharma, a global generic medicines leader – why should India take America’s concerns on board? Isn’t policy best dictated by sovereign interest?

As a sovereign nation, India has the power to make policy decisions to reflect the future it wants for itself – but these choices carry important economic consequences.

GIPC’s research shows intellectual property protections are closely linked to a country’s innovative output. India may have become a leader in production of generic medicines – but it has actually impeded the development of a domestic innovative pharmaceutical industry.

The lack of effective patent protection, enforcement and data exclusivity have driven investments to other countries and delayed new medicines in India.

We hope India will choose the IP-led model and unleash the innovative capacity of its people for its own sake – and the benefit of the world.

Speaking of the world, why do American politicians criticise Indian workers and companies? Does America claim intellectual property rights to hard work and enterprise?

Well, innovation is everywhere – and no one country has a monopoly on great ideas.

But the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan are the source of much of the world’s innovation because of their strong intellectual property laws. These systems enable great ideas to move from the back of a napkin to a business plan, to investor financing to research and development and finally, to successful commercialisation.

This is a model that hard-working, entrepreneurial Indians deserve.

What are US expectations following PM Modi’s visit now?

Largely, the expectations are that India will undertake substantive reforms to improve the business climate and strengthen IPR protections.

We are looking for real outcomes – and less rhetoric.

To the EU, India’s largest FDI investor, the economy looks better now than previously – what about you?

We agree. Under PM Modi, there’s been a tremendous injection of enthusiasm and confidence, not just in India but around the world – there is a feeling this is India’s moment.

In the last 15 years, China saw double-digit growth that took millions out of poverty and energised the world. India should be next – and innovation’s an essential part of that.

Speaking of growth, we’re not hearing much about economic policy in America’s election campaigns.

Campaigns are usually very different from Presidential policies.

Remember 2008 – both Hilary and Barack were anti-trade. But once in office, you saw a change – Obama’s trade agenda is amongst the most ambitious we’ve ever seen.

The rhetoric of the campaigns now is not necessarily what’ll become reality later.