India "lacks enforcement of IP rights" says report

BASCAP India reportIndia must make enforcing intellectual property (IP) protection laws a priority to help curb the trade in fake goods, says a new report.

Industry is "consistently citing enforcement as the key element missing in developing a stronger national IP strategy for India," says the report from the International Chamber of Commerce's Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) unit.

It calls on the government of India to strengthen enforcement of trademark and copyright laws and regulations. The document was prepared with the help of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and its Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (CASCADE).

Some of the data make for alarming reading. For example, a FICCI study found that counterfeit automobile parts account for nearly 30 per cent of the market in India, and cause both directly and indirectly around a fifth of all road accidents.

Meanwhile, half of all alcohol consumption comes from illegal production, posing an elevated health risk, while 80 per cent of consumers buying fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) are duped into believing they are buying authentic product.

Commenting on the findings, William Dobson, deputy director of BASCAP said: "India's leaders have recognised the importance of fostering creativity and innovation as a key to future economic growth. However, the full value of such innovation can only be recognised if there is a clear legal and regulatory system that protects the intellectual property rights of the creators, inventors and innovators."

"India has a strong IP regime in place, but must do more to strengthen enforcement of these regulations."

Among the recommendations of the report are that India should in the short term give political priority to IP crimes and increase funding and capacity for IP enforcement and establish a rewards system for police officers investigating economic crimes. In the long term the creation of an IP rights enforcement agency at the federal-level would be beneficial.

To block the trade in counterfeit products BACAP recommends a raft of measures including training for customs officials and prioritisation of trademark investigations and parallel imports, cancelling retailers' trade licenses when illicit products are found and empowering government tax inspectors to check and account for genuine product licenses.

"This effort must start with the government sending a clear message this activity will no longer be tolerated - backed up by increased enforcement of India's IP laws," said Dobson.

The report findings were revealed at a major BASCAP-FICCI-CASCADE conference  -  Trade In Counterfeit, Pirated And Smuggled Goods - A Threat To India's National Security And Economy  -  that was held in New Delhi towards the end of September.

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