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Patents Bill needs surgery, say pharma MNCs

Our Bureau

MUMBAI, June 5

POST the second amendment in the Patents Bill, multinational pharma companies feel that with the Bill being inconsistent with the TRIPs specifications, a third amendment before January 1, 2005 could well be under way.

Mr Ranjit Shahani, President, Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI), said that a number of provisions in the Bill are inconsistent with the minimum international standards. "The legislation does little to change the basic deficiencies underlying the 1970 law and dilutes the Intellectual Property protection to the detriment of the patent holder.''

India has to comply with the TRIPs agreement from January 1, 2005 and implement the product patent as described in the agreement.

According to Dr Prabhudda Ganguly, Patent Attorney, Vision-IPR, "There are lot of loopholes in the second amendment in the patent Bill. The key issues of debate include the grating of patents in all areas of technologies and reversal of burden of proof. A third amendment could be under way looking at the present structure of the second amendment patent Bill.''

The other main concern is the issue of compulsory licensing. "Compulsory licensing provisions should not be widened. It is desirable to define the process of declaring national emergency and also prescribe the authorities empowered to do so. This will reduce any ambiguity and will make the whole process transparent,'' Mr Shahani said.

Problems in compulsory licensing are compounded by the issue of remuneration of the patentee. Says Ms Krishnan Sarma, Corporate Law Group and an expert on patent law: "Section 90 (1) (i) of the Bill provides that the terms of the licence are to be set so as to provide remuneration to the patent owner that is reasonable. There is no clarity as to what reasonable is and who will ascertain it.''

Dr Ganguly suggested that an integrated single window national IPR commission should be constituted.

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