The Modi Government on Friday denied that the reference to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in the joint statement from U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this week, was an outcome of the U.S. “arm-twisting”. The U.S. consent to discussion of IPR issues through the bilateral mechanism is a re-affirmation of India’s stand that issues need bilateral discussion and not unilateral action, a Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) clarification said.
The clarification further said the bilateral mechanism agreed to for discussing IPR disputes — Trade Policy Forum (TPF) — was put in place by the UPA Government in March 2010 through a US-India statement, was signed by the then Commerce Minister and his U.S. counterpart. “We have not submitted to the U.S. or yielded ground…. We have reiterated that the U.S. should not act unilaterally,” Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told The Hindu.
The joint statement, the DIPP clarified, in fact “merely reiterates” the position India has held since 2010 — this consistent position being that the IPR legal regime in India is fully TRIPS compliant and that issues to be discussed have to be taken up in bilateral forums like TPF. India has consistently refused to be subjected to unilateral action, the clarification added.
The U.S. has proposed unilateral action against India under its Special 301 report, which is an annual report on IPR under U.S. Trade Act.
India has been repeatedly raising the issue of copyright piracy and misappropriation of traditional knowledge with the U.S., the clarification added.
The joint Indo-U.S. statement issued during Prime Minister Modi’s recent visit to the U.S. had said: “Agreeing on the need to foster innovation in a manner that promotes economic growth and job creation, the leaders committed to establish an annual high level Intellectual Property (IP) Working Group with appropriate decision making and technical level meetings as a part of the trade policy forum”.
The TPF that had not met for three years is scheduled to meet later this month. It includes the Innovation and Creativity Focus Group for consultations between the two countries at least twice a year on improving IPR protection and enforcement, working towards greater IPR awareness and fostering innovation and creativity through increased collaboration between U.S. and Indian innovators, the clarification stated.