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US Govt Report Points Towards IPR Issues In India: Patents, Public Performance Of Music, Govt Software

The US government has put India and 12 other countries in Priority Watch List for failing to prevent the theft of copyrighted property. The 2012 Special 301 Report (pdf) states that India has made limited progress on intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement in 2011, and its legal framework and enforcement system remain weak, and puts the country on a priority watch list along with Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Israel,
Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, Venezuela. The report points towards the following issues in India:

– Stalling of the the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2010 (pdf): which proposed partial implementation of the WIPO Internet Treaties and other reforms appears to have stalled.

– Patent proceedings: The United States displayed concerns over inefficient streamlining of patent opposition proceedings and ineffective system for protecting against unfair commercial use, as well as unauthorized disclosure of test or other data generated. It has urged India to take additional steps to improve coordination with enforcement officials of certain state governments within India, address its judicial inefficiencies and to strengthen criminal enforcement efforts by imposing deterrent level sentences and giving IPR prosecutions greater priority. The report added that the United States will monitor developments concerning compulsory licensing of patents in India following the broad interpretation of Indian law in a recent decision by the Controller General of Patents, while also bearing in mind the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health found in the Intellectual Property and Health Policy section of this Report.

– Public Performance of music: Growing challenges facing rights holders seeking to collect royalties that are legally owed for the public performance of their musical works in certain regions: this is significant in the Caribbean region, but also there in in India and Vietnam

– Pirated disks: “Although piracy over the Internet is rapidly supplanting physical piracy in many markets around the world, the production of, and trade in, pirated optical discs remain major problems in many
regions.” The report says that India, China, Paraguay and Vietnam still need to adopt and implement legislation or improve existing measures to combat illegal optical disc production and distribution.

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– Government Use of Software: “USTR has undertaken an initiative to work with other governments, particularly in countries that are modernizing their software systems or where concerns have been raised, to stop governmental use of illegal software.” The report says that “work on this issue” remains with that India, along with China, Pakistan, Paraguay, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Vietnam.

Interestingly, it states that in 2011, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conducted regional border training programs that focused on IPR enforcement in India.

India has been featured under Priority Watch List for IPR protection on the Special 301 Report since 2007.

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