Foreign consultants cannot be avoided to India

Tuesday, 16 November 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India will need foreign expertise to improve its patent regime in spite of political opposition to the proposal, Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said here Tuesday.

"Despite what the Left says, we will have to hire Indian and foreign consultants," Sibal told a conference on in-house research and development, emphasising on the need to achieve better patent literacy in the country.

"Statutes alone will not help us. We must meet the new challenges. Developing skills in filing, reading and exploiting patents will be crucial in the years to come."

The minister was alluding to the opposition of Left parties - that support the Congress party-led government from outside - to foreign consultants being involved in the country's planning process.

"We must fully understand the implications of the patents granted to our competitors," the minister said, inaugurating the conference organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

"Many of the patents written by our professionals can be easily circumvented," he said, emphasising the need for better manpower planning in intellectual property rights (IPR) protection.

Sibal said it was appalling that India did not have a single institute to impart patent education, while its neighbour China had 5,000. He called for making IPR literacy a part of all professional courses in the country.

He said the country's new patent law would serve as a model for other developing nations. "We must so design it to give ourselves a world class IP regime. At the same time the government has a duty to protect the public interest."

Sibal said the government proposed to amend the Patent's Act 1970 by Dec 31 to make it compliant with the agreement on trade related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) under the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

He said the present patent law was a necessity when it was enacted in 1970. "I do not think we could have succeeded in nurturing a drug and pharmaceutical industry that we have today without the Patents Act of 1970."

R.A. Mashelkar, secretary in the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, said in his introductory remarks that India has been doing remarkably well in patent statistics.

A recent study by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) said India stood third in the number of patents owned in terms of per capita gross income per annum. The country had a score of 0.91.

The United States led the list with 1.39 followed by Japan with 1.18. China, he said, was fourth with 0.73, followed by Germany with 0.53 and South Korea with 0.42 among the top six countries.

Source: IANS
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