Quite simply, from pharmaceuticals to motion pictures to software, India is stealing our stuff. India ranks dead last among major economies in protection of intellectual property rights, according to a comprehensive analysis by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And despite lots of talk and visits from Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden last year, India's respect for property rights has only continued to deteriorate. It's time for the administration to get tough and designate India as a Priority Foreign Country in its 2014 Special 301 Report, making clear that India will suffer consequences if it continues its present course.
The need for this move is being urged broadly by all corners of the U.S. business community. In a detailed public comment filing, the U.S. Chamber strongly recommended the designation for India, noting that in the last year, its "environment deteriorated considerably." A letter filed by more than fifty local business groups along with individual technology and biopharmaceutical companies was even blunter, saying: "We look forward to a Priority Foreign Country designation, India's systematic discrimination against U.S. innovators and its growing theft of U.S. intellectual capital demand no less."
They are right.
Starting in March of 2012, India has issued compulsory licenses for drugs under a new policy requiring local manufacturing, a condition which is clearly illegal under international trade law. The first compulsory license was issued on Nexavar, a Bayer cancer drug. Then they began outright revoking patents, starting with Sutent, on which Pfizer has a clearly valid patent recognized in over 90 countries. Similar moves to revoke and deny valid patents followed against Roche's Tarceva and Novartis's Glivec - even though Novartis was giving away Glivec for free to 95 percent of the Indian market, laying bare any excuse that these moves to seize U.S. property were justified on humanitarian grounds. In the past two years, India has undermined patent rights on at least fifteen medicines.
India is a market of over a billion people. The total cost of bringing a new drug to market is now $1.2 billion according to the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, in part due to regulatory compliance and litigation expenses. Strong protections for the intellectual property rights of innovators are absolutely critical to raise the capital and justify investing it in developing new cures. The greatest threat to such innovation globally now comes from India's misguided policies.
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment, a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of the 2011 book Democracy Denied.
American Commitment is dedicated to restoring and protecting America’s core commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom.
Washingtonian magazine named Mr. Kerpen to their "Guest List" in 2008 and The Hill newspaper named Mr. Kerpen a "Top Grassroots Lobbyist" in 2011.
Mr. Kerpen's op-eds have run in newspapers across the country and he is a frequent radio and television commentator on economic growth issues.
Prior to joining American Commitment, Mr. Kerpen served as vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity. Mr. Kerpen has also previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Free Enterprise Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Cato Institute.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Kerpen currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife Joanna and their daughter Lilly.