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BY: Meir Perez Pugatch
India could use IP rights to take its rightful place as a leader in global innovation.
Back in 2007, when I visited India for the first time, I had the privilege of meeting some of the brightest and most talented minds in the fields of science and technology. I also had the pleasure of discussing and debating India’s level of intellectual property (IP) protection. Essentially, what we were debating boiled down to one major theme: the extent to which India’s IP environment allows it to unleash and leverage the huge brain power and creativity of its citizens, not to mention being able to attract the knowledge, knowhow and funds of global innovators. Fast-forward to 2014, and the answer is still not satisfactory.
Earlier this year, the Global Intellectual Property Centre released the second edition of the GIPC International IP Index, “Charting the Course”. The GIPC Index measures and compares the strength of IP environments in 25 countries, including India. The 30 indicators measured by the index are based on the rights that have been identified as critical to a variety of business sectors, such as the music, content, pharmaceutical and brand industries.
According to the GIPC Index, India was ranked the lowest among 25 countries surveyed — with a score of 6.95 out of a maximum score of 30. Interestingly, the discussion in India that followed the release of the index was characterised by two distinct reactions, which can be categorised as “contemplative” or “critical”.
Contemplative reactions sought to focus on the challenges that exist in India with regard to IP, for example, concerning the relatively weak level of enforcement of existing rights, as well as the limited level of protection afforded to the different technological sectors included in the index. Critical reactions sought to reject the findings of the GIPC index altogether, arguing that there is nothing really wrong with India’s IP environment. In an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the GIPC index and its findings, local critics argued that the index is biased, that it was a priori designed against India (and that the other 24 countries were just used as a pretext), that it focuses only on pharmaceutical issues (ignoring the other 25 indicators that do not relate to this field), etc.
But why are local critics so angry with the GIPC index and its results? One explanation is that India’s score provides a serious challenge to the narrative that India has a balanced and adequate IP environment. According to the index, India falls short in almost all of the 30 continued…