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Report Shows World's Weakest IP Environments

February 4, 2014
There is clear link between a country’s rate of economic development and the strength of its intellectual property laws. This is particularly true in knowledge-intensive sectors such as biopharmaceuticals.

The good news is that some mature and emerging economies are making growing use of patent systems to facilitate biotechnology research and commercialization. The bad news is that a number of countries, including India, China, Brazil and Canada, have established bureaucratic and burdensome hurdles to patentability.

BIO is concerned over a series of patent revocations including a decision by India’s Supreme Court to deny patent protection for a novel therapy on the grounds it did not demonstrate enhanced efficacy. Furthermore, Brazil's unprecedented review of patents by the health regulatory authority, China's increased data requirements and Canada's increased utility requirements all ultimately undermine the drug development and patenting process and may impede the delivery of novel medicines to market.

Last week the U.S Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) released its 2nd edition of the GIPC International IP Index, Charting the Course. This year’s expanded report maps the IP environment in 25 countries around the world, utilizing 30 factors that are indicative of an environment that fosters growth and development.

According to the report, India “continues to have the weakest IP environment of all countries included in the index. Despite the 2010 declaration by the then-President of India that the next 10 years will be India’s “Decade of Innovation” the continued use of compulsory licenses, patent revocations, and weak legislative and enforcement mechanisms raise serious concerns about India’s commitment to promote innovation and protect creators."

The report goes on to state that “in India, the national IP environment continued to deteriorate in 2013 across a number of critical areas. In the biopharmaceutical space, Indian policy continued to breach international standards of the protection of innovation and patent rights, revoking patents generally accepted around the world and announcing that other patented medicines are being considered for compulsory licenses."

These findings are concerning, to say the least. It is imperative for governments that want to foster a robust biotech innovation environment to create a set of strong intellectual property standards – particularly those governing data protection, patents and trade secret protection – that are relevant to biological products.

The biotechnology industry is a dynamic, job-creating industry, and presents opportunities for every country. Indeed, the vast majority of biotechnology companies are small- and medium-sized enterprises. What these companies share is a philosophy that is critical to the task of developing biotechnology products – a willingness to take huge risks and invest in development of new technologies that will lead to new products and services that will improve people’s lives.

BIO and its members believe that strong IP laws create an environment that promotes collaboration and innovation across borders. We will continue to work around the world to champion IP rights as a vital means of creating jobs, saving lives, advancing global economic growth, and generating breakthrough solutions to global challenges.