This Just In: US keeps China, India on Priority Watch List; India rejects US Special 301 Report as “Unilateral” and “Inconsistent”

By Harish S. Adwant, III BSL LLB, ILS Law College, Pune

The United States, by way of its annual Special 301 Report on IPR and patents regime of its partner countries, has kept China and India on its Priority Watch List (PWL) along with 11 other trading partners. The Commerce Department’s US Trade Representative (USTR) has increased the number to 13 trading partners, owing to their failure in protecting and judicially enforcing intellectual property rights (IPR), consequently hampering the economy.

India remained on the list on account of its inadequate IPR laws, despite the announcement of “National IPR Policy” by the newly-instituted NDA Government earlier this year.

India, on Saturday, has rejected the Special 301 Report describing it as a “unilateral measure” and “inconsistent” with the global trading rules. “The Special 301 Report issued by the United States under their Trade Act of 1974 is a unilateral measure to create pressure on countries to enhance IPR protection beyond the TRIPS (Trade Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement,” Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman corresponded to the Lok Sabha.

“Special 301 report, which is an extra territorial application of the domestic law of a country, is inconsistent with the established norms of the WTO. Any dispute between two countries needs to be referred to the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO and unilateral actions are not tenable under this regime,” she added.

The USTR has raised concerns over India’s IPR policy framework. However, India stands by its premise that its patent policy is in compliance with global trade rules and regulations.

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