Monthly Archives: June 2013

EU India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) May Be Narrowed Down Due To Differences

EU India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) May Be Narrowed Down Due To DifferencesThe European Union and Indian Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has never been smooth. Whether it is border enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRs) of Indian goods meant for third countries destinations or dispute at WTO the negotiations between EU and India were never hassle free.

Even some controversial dialogues like removal of India from Generalised Systems of Preferences (GSP) Scheme of EU, disagreements over TRIPS Plus provisions vis-à-vis IPRs, issues of Data Exclusivity, etc also surfaced. However, all these issues were amicable settled between India and EU.

Further, India is expecting a Data Secure Nation Status from European Union.  Once this status is granted, formal objections against India as a weak data protection nation would be discarded out rightly. This would also attract more outsourced work in India.

However, EU is in no mood to confer this status upon India lightly. EU has refused to grant data secure status to Indian information technology companies and instead offering a data adequacy status. Similar status has been given by EU to U.S.

India has also made its stand stern and has declared that it may sign a FTA with EU with a narrow political window. This means that India would be unwilling to offer further tariff cuts for automobiles and would provide no room to flexibilities on pharmaceuticals and government procurement.

EU has been raising various demands for the past seven years since the negotiations began. Some of them are not even tenable at the moment. For instance, regarding the government procurement, EU has demanded commitments based on the proposed public procurement law, which has not even been placed before Parliament. India has given an assurance that it would look into the matter once the law is passed but for EU it is a pre condition for the FTA.

EU is pushing for preference in government purchases for European companies, which is unacceptable to India as India is willing to ensure that orders above a specified value are bid out and European bidders are not at a disadvantage.

EU is raising issues at the last minute where political consensus is very difficult to achieve. India would be witnessing general elections next summer and with the present pace, a FTA between EU and India is not possible. So as on date there seems to be a deadlock between EU and India on the FTA.

Obama Administration Would Scrutinise Patent Trolls In US

Obama Administration Would Scrutinise Patent Trolls In USThe patent system of United States is very liberal in nature. It is occasionally claimed that anything under the sun is patentable in U.S. This has created a problem for U.S. patent systems where patent trolls are exploiting it for their benefits.

Patent trolls can affect the competition and the whole purpose of granting the patent is defeated. Patent trolls usually have no intention to manufacture or market the patented invention and their sole purpose is to make some quick money through cease and desist orders and Patents infringement litigations. Now even in India this practice has begun to surface.

However, compared to U.S. this menace has not affected India much. But U.S. need to take immediate action in this regard and realising this condition the Obama Administration will announce a set of executive actions on Tuesday that would regulate the acts of patent trolls in U.S.

As per media reports, President Obama will instruct the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to initiate a rule-making process that would require patent holders to disclose the owner of a patent. Obama would announce five executive actions and seven proposed legislative changes, including asking Congress for legislation that would sanction litigants who file lawsuits deemed abusive by the courts.

The sole objective of patent trolls is to extract licensing fees from other companies rather than make products based on the patents they hold. They achieve this through threats of patent violation and corresponding litigations in this regard. Such lawsuits have increased tremendously in the past in U.S.

In 2011, Obama signed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, which changed the U.S. patent system into a “first-to-file” patent system as opposed to a “first-to-invent system”. The USPTO previously awarded patents based on when inventors had the idea, instead of when they filed a patent application.

However, this has put the entrepreneurs and individuals at risk at the hands of software patent holders who try to exploit them. High profile IP litigations involving Microsoft, Apple, etc have also been in limelight. Mozilla had also issued a cease and desist notice to Gamma International for maliciously using its brand and reputation. Kim Dotcom has also accused Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc of violating his two step authentication patent.

It seems the Obama administration is trying to bring some order in the otherwise chaotic situation. Some guidance from India can be taken in this regard where public interest still prevails against commercial interests.