Monday, October 25, 2004

India gets set for WTO patent regime - India is gearing up for the introduction of new legislation on intellectual property that will bring it into line with its World Trade Organisation commitments.

The country’s long-awaited Third Patent Amendment Bill is likely to be introduced in Parliament at its winter session in December, according to local news reports. The bill increases protection to include product patents as well as process patents, and according to the WTO should be passed into law by 1 January, 2005.

However, there are signs that its implementation may be delayed, as there is still disagreement at ministerial level about certain key aspects of the legislation, including the definitions it employs for patentability.

If the bill is not passed in the winter session, it will be referred to a standing committee which will then re-introduce it in the budget session starting in February 2005, said BK Keayla, convenor of India's non-governmental National Working Group of Patent Law.

India’s 280-billion rupee (€4.8bn) pharmaceutical industry is looking forward to the launch of a new patent regime, because they believe it will lead to an increase in the number of foreign companies - once assured of product patent protection - seeking local partners.

One key element of benefit to the Indian industry will be its standing as a source of actve pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). Industry sources expect the domestic pharmaceutical sector's revenue from the US generic market alone will quadruple in the next five years to $2.17 billion with similar growth expected from Europe. The US generic market was worth $16 billion in 2003, with Indian companies capturing a 3.5 per cent share.

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