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What is the special 301 report? What are the reasons for India remaini...

  May 22, 2020

What is the special 301 report? What are the reasons for India remaining in the U.S. Priority Watch List?

  1. As per the United States Trade Representative’s report, while India made meaningful progress to enhance IP protection and enforcement in some areas, it is blamed for not having resolved recent and long-standing challenges.
  2. Hence India continues to be on the ‘Priority Watch List’ of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) for lack of adequate intellectual property (IP) rights protection and enforcement as per , the USTR’s Annual Special 301 Report 2020.
  3. India remained one of the most challenging economies for IP enforcement and protection, and the same assessment was made in the 2019 report.
  4. The long-standing concerns were about innovators being able to receive, maintain and enforce patents particularly in the pharmaceutical sector; concerns over copyright laws not incentivising the creation and commercialisation of content; and an outdated trade secrets framework.
  5. India is also accused of further restricted the transparency of information provided on state-issued pharmaceutical manufacturing licenses.
  6. It continues to apply restrictive patentability criteria to reject pharmaceutical patents, and still has not established an effective system for protecting against the unfair commercial use, as well as the unauthorized disclosure.
  7. The report also mentioned high customs duties on medical devices and Information and Communications Technology. 
  8. These goods categories were persistent challenges in trade talks between the two countries last year.
  9. Online IP enforcement in India has improved, but progress is undercut by factors including weak enforcement by courts and the police, lack of familiarity with investigative techniques and no centralised IP enforcement agency. 
  10. The USTR also noted that India was ranked among the top five source economies for fake goods by the Organization of Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) in 2019.