The new Indian government has wasted no time in demonstrating its pro-business attitude by releasing a long-awaited draft IP rights policy. In the past, India has always been lumped in with China when it comes to IP protection.
However, the situation in India is complex as the country has a quite different relationship to IP rights from the other BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations. On the one hand, India has a disappointing record of upholding the rights of products manufactured outside the country and the scientific and technical community still lacks a good appreciation of intellectual property. However, when it comes to products such as pharmaceuticals, India is arguably ahead of many other nations, with stringent laws that value innovation over offering protection to generic manufacturers. Similar efforts for enhancing patent quality are being instituted in the United States through the America Invents Act and recent efforts by the new patent commissioner, Michelle Lee.
With a youthful workforce, a significant proportion of which is highly educated, India is also an innovation hotbed, especially for multinational corporations, with global giants such as General Electric (GE), Cisco, Intel, SAP, IBM and Microsoft all relying on India’s extensive workforce of engineers and scientists to produce innovations.
Over the last couple of decades, India has perhaps become best known as an outsourcing destination for mid to lowertier IT and call centre jobs. The highly capable Indian workforce was used in this way in the 1990s and the early 2000s by multinationals including American Express, British Airways and Citigroup as a means of reducing costs.