The National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy, announced by the Government of India’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) on 13 May, has been formulated at a time when India has been facing tremendous political pressure from the United States (US) to change its intellectual property (IP) regime primarily to serve the interests of pharmaceutical transnational corporations (TNCs).
The process of putting together the policy had attracted the attention of both the IP “maximalist” as well as the IP “sceptic” ever since the government announced its decision to formulate such a policy on 8 September 2014. The main concern that had been expressed during the policy formation period was that the policy might tilt the country’s approach to IP towards a maximalist position, undermining its social and economic development needs, notably the goal of providing access to affordable medicines. The pharmaceutical TNCs used the opportunity to influence the policy in their favour to undermine public interest safeguards in the Patents Act.
This article by KM Gopakumar seeks to place the new IP policy in a development and public interest perspective and explains its context. While the policy is supposed to deal with IP in general, most of the policy measures target patents. Hence, it is important to look at its policy implications, specifically in the area of patent rights.