Mumbai, 20 Aug 2009 - A group of 21 civil society organisations and prominent citizens in the country have demanded to the Indian business associations like CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM and others to reject all attempts of bringing in a TRIPS Plus Intellectual Property (IP) enforcement agenda in India.
Indian pharmaceutical industry is one of the victims of TRIPS Plus IP enforcement standards. In 2008 alone, 17 consignments were seized in transit at various European ports using the EU Directive on IP Enforcement, which allows seizure of goods in transit, they said.
Expressing concern over the CII initiative in hosting the Third International Conference on Counterfeiting and Piracy from 19th to 20th August 2009 in partnership with American Embassy and the Quality Brand Protection Committee (QBPC), China, the NGOs said that higher norms of IP enforcement necessarily undermine various other rights of the people at large, including the right to access to medicines and access to knowledge.
"There are serious credibility issues presented by CII's decision to organize this event. Considering that the Indian Government and the global civil society is fighting another battle against the upward ratchet of IP enforcement norms at various international forums, it is really unfortunate that the CII and other major industry organizations are acting as adversaries of public interest," the NGOs said.
In an open letter to the CII, they demanded to completely disengaging from any collaborative efforts with foreign institutions to further TRIPS Plus standards of IP protection in India and also abstaining from any engagements on the anti-counterfeiting efforts with foreign agencies. CII should attempt to engage with domestic institutions and build national consensus before engaging with foreign institutions with the claim of representatives of Indian industry.
They also asked the business associations to take necessary proactive steps to safeguard the interests of access to medicine and access to knowledge along with interest of the Indian domestic industry and also to participate in a more creative discussion on IP and development rather than simply accepting the simplistic and largely discredited view that stronger IP regime leads to more innovation and is a necessary condition for socio-economic development.
The NGOs said that the MNCs and their developed country hosts are currently engaged in the implementation of a multi-pronged strategy to enhance IP enforcement standards. Some developed countries have unilaterally enhanced their IP enforcement strategy to force other countries to accept the same through various multilateral organizations like WCO, WHO, UPU, Interpol, WIPO and WTO.
By partnering with the US Embassy and QBPC in organising this conference, CII is allowing itself to play in the hands of MNCs and some developed countries, whose interests do not match with that of India industries and that of the Indian people, they said.
<IFPMA Press Review 20 August 2009>