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U.S. Places India on Priority Watch List for IP Protection

In the recently released 2024 Special 301 Report by the U.S. Trade Representatives (USTR), India finds itself on the Priority Watch List for intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement. This decision comes amidst ongoing concerns regarding India’s handling of IP security issues.

Key Concerns Highlighted by USTR

Patent Issues and Lengthy Waiting Periods

India faces significant challenges in its patent system, with applicants encountering lengthy waiting periods and excessive reporting requirements. Moreover, there are concerns regarding the potential threat of patent revocations, lack of presumption of patent validity, and narrow patentability criteria under the Indian Patents Act, which pose burdens across various sectors.

Inconsistencies in Progress

While some progress has been noted, particularly in raising public awareness and engaging with the United States on IP matters, USTR emphasizes that India remains inconsistent in its overall progress on IP protection and enforcement. Despite gradual improvements in online IP enforcement, tangible benefits for innovators and creators are lacking, undermining their efforts.

USTR’s Bilateral Engagement Strategy

Intense Bilateral Engagement

USTR has announced plans for intense bilateral engagement with India and other countries on the Priority Watch List in the coming year. This engagement aims to address the shortcomings in IP protection and enforcement, with a focus on fostering a more conducive environment for innovation and creativity.

Global Impact of IP Protection

Emphasizing the importance of intellectual property rights, USTR underscores that inadequate protection and enforcement in foreign markets not only harm the U.S. economy but also hinder the dynamism of American innovators and impact the livelihoods of workers. It stresses the need for a balanced approach that safeguards the interests of creators while promoting innovation.

Observations on China and Other Countries

China’s Progress and Reform

While China has taken steps towards IP-related legal and regulatory reform, including amendments to patent, copyright, and criminal laws, USTR notes that these efforts require effective implementation and fall short of comprehensive changes needed to improve the IP landscape.

Other Countries on Watch List

Apart from India, several other countries, including Argentina, Chile, China, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and Venezuela, have been placed on the Priority Watch List. Additionally, 23 trading partners are on the Watch List, indicating ongoing concerns about IP protection and enforcement across various regions.

By closely monitoring and engaging with these countries, USTR aims to address IP challenges and promote a more robust global IP framework conducive to innovation and economic growth.

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