India finishes Second Last in the Global IP Index

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Today has been an unusually busy day for anyone who keenly follows IP law and policy due to  two very important events that took place in Washington, D.C. One was the release of the international IP Index by the U.S. Chambers of Commerce and the second was the CATO Institute’s panel discussion on Intellectual Property and First Principles.

Couple of hours back, just when I was winding up my first blog post for ISGLP titled “ India’s Tryst with the Special 301 Process : The Story Until Now and Future“, my phone beeped signaling the release of the 4th Annual International IP index by the Global Intellectual Property Center (I’ll share the blog post once it’s published).

To my utter dismay, India was ranked 37th out of 38th economies vis – a-vis international best practices on IP law. The reasons attributed to India’s laggard performance was the same old rhetoric of, (a) Non – conformance with international patentability requirements (b) Unavailability of regulatory data protection and patent term restoration (c) Usage of compulsory licenses for commercial and non – emergency situations (d) Poor application and enforcement of civil remedies and criminal penalties and (e) Not a contracting party to any of the international IP treaties referenced in the Index.  The 2015 Indian Supreme Court’s ruling on notice and takedown requirements for copyright infringement content was also cited as one the areas of weakness. ( Being based out of Washington D.C., I’m unsure as to which decision is being referred to. However, I’ll get back on this soon).

The overall score stood at an appalling 7.05 on a scale of 30 (reflecting measurable criteria critical to innovation including patent, copyright and trademark protections, enforcement and engagement in international treaties)  . While I was not expecting a stellar ranking, the least I expected was India being lauded for it’s sincere efforts to revisit it’s IP regime ( beyond the formalistic statement, “The government of India continued to make positive statements during 2015 on the need to introduce a strong IP environment.”). A cursory remark on the IPR Think Tank and the draft IPR Policy would have been propitious.

7 thoughts on “India finishes Second Last in the Global IP Index

  1. Thank you for highlighting the issues around IP. Certainly this should raise alarms in the field of IP and policy formulation not only in India but also regionally and globally.
    One of the challenges that we may face today is how to design metrics and measurable criteria critical to innovation. One of the trends in ICT field is that innovators tend to make the IP accessible to all. Rapid innovation pace allows innovators to make available their outcomes openly, then getting ready to introduce next wave leaving little time for followers. This is a common observation for ICT patent from a small organisation or for an individual as the patenting process is costly and idea will reach offshore swiftly.
    This observation and argument should not discount any of the measures we should have taken to improve Global IP index of individual countries but should be innovative and mindful of finding better proxies as well.


    1. Welcome Dr. Amal. Honestly, the Global IP Index and other instrumentalities of similar nature (Special 301 Process) is nothing but a coercive tool by the U.S. to pressurise countries which do not adhere to it’s standards of Intellectual Property (even though they comply with international IP standards). There is a larger political and economic dimension to it. But needless to say, the entire region needs to formulate a sound IP framework which promotes innovation in it’s heart and spirit (keeping in mind our stage of economic development).
      Many economists have actually argued that there is was no proved positive relationship between stringent patent regime and innovation. While I’m not aware about ICT, I can make a reasonable argument for software patents. The prevailing view in Silicon Valley is that excessive patent protection is cumbersome and infact a highly expensive and cumbersome process. And thus, most of the corporations are moving towards an open access regime (this is also because many corporations do not want to reveal the technical process involved in reaching the end product due to a fear of the inventive step getting leaked).

      You may want to read last year’s Economist on how the patent system was actually not fuelling innovation. The article can be read here, Needless to say, the veracity of this article has been doubted by many, particularly the pharma lobbyists of Washington D.C.

      As a technocrat, would you rather be pleased with patent protection or would prize be a better incentive to innovate?


  2. The 2015 Supreme Court decision being referred to is none other than Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, which has been a landmark victory for crusaders of free speech. Unfortunately, the copyright aspect of the decision has not gained much traction. This is can be attributed to the rather brave but lone attack to Section 79 of the Information Technology Act brought by the Internet and Mobile Association of India. For an in-dept analysis, read Stephen Mathias excellent piece.


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