INDIA ENTERS PRODUCT PATENT REGIME WITH FULL SAFEGUARDS FOR PUBLIC HEALTH
Date : 31 Dec 2004
Location : New Delhi
India enters the full product patent regime from tomorrow, 1st January, 2005 with full safeguards for public health concerns in what is clearly a major milestone in the evolution of the Indian economy. The Ordinance of 26th December, 2004 paved the way for introduction of product patent protection for inventions in the fields of food, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. It has effective provisions, inter-alia, to ensure availability of products at reasonable price through compulsory licence; for revocation of patents for non-working in India as well as in public interest; use of invention for the purposes of Government; acquisition or invention for patents for public purpose; and provides for parallel import so that the patented product can become available at the lowest international price. Shri Kamal Nath, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, says that the requirements of the public in regard to the availability and affordability are taken care of and public interest, particularly public health and nutrition fully protected. "The law effectively balances and calibrates intellectual property protection with public health concerns and national security", he has said.
India is a signatory to the agreement 1994 establishing the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the agreement on trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPs) is a part of the WTO agreement which India had ratified. The Patents Act was required to be amended, once the transition period of 10 years for developing countries expires on 31 December, 2004, as per the TRIPs agreement so as to extend product patent protection for inventions in the fields of food, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Patent (Third) Amendment also provides for deletion of provisions relating to Exclusive Marketing Rights (which would become redundant) and streamlines the system by having both pre-grant and post-grant opposition to patents.
Another significant development during 2004 was the sizeable increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into India. During January to September 2004, FDI inflows increased by over 54% to reach US $ 3042 million ($ 3 billion) as against US $ 1969 million ($ 1.9 billion) during the corresponding period of 2003. These figures relate only to FDI equity. As per the revised definition of FDI (inclusive of reinvested earnings, other capital etc.) as reported by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), FDI inflows during 2004 (January-September) touched a record US $ 5467 million ($ 5.4 billion) as against US $ 4325 million ($ 4.3 billion) in January-September 2003, indicating a rise of 26.40% in the 9 months of the calendar year 2004. FDI approvals during the same period of 2004 have also gone up by over 95% compared to the previous year.
India has been attracting attention of the global investing community in view of its liberal and investor-friendly regime and competitive strengths, especially in information technology, the automobile, telecommunication, electronic and electrical equipments pharmaceuticals and financial sectors. In fact, the FDI Confidence Survey, 2004, AT KEARNEY has rated India as the 3rd most attractive investment destination (behind China and USA) compared with 15th position two years ago and 6th last year.
Overall industrial growth rate, measured in terms of Index of Industrial Production (Base: 1993-94=100) was 10.1% in October 2004 as compared to 6.2% in October 2003. The double-digit growth in the overall industrial production was aided by a robust growth of 11.3% in the manufacturing sector followed by mining and quarrying and electricity generation, which posted increase of 4.7% and 3.8% respectively in October 2004. It is after a gap of nearly 7 years that both overall industrial growth and growth in the manufacturing sector crossed the double-digit number in a particular month. The last time it happened was in November 1997 when overall industrial growth and manufacturing sector growth were 10.6% and 11.7% respectively.
Another major policy initiative was the establishment of the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC) with a view to enhancing the competitiveness of the Indian manufacturing sector and generating employment.