Jumping the gun

With the adoption of the Patents (Second Amendment) Bill by Parliament on May 14, a trips (Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) compliant patents law is now only a matter of the President of India's formal assent.

The amended legislation provides for changes in the scope of patentable inventions, grant of new rights, extension of the term of protection, provision for reversal of burden of proof and conditions on compulsory licencing (cl). In making these changes, it appears the government has been pushed in a big way by multinational corporations (mncs) to accept provisions that fail to capitalise on the flexibility available to India within the trips framework.

As per Article 65(4) of trips, India could have up to 2005 to introduce product patents for microorganisms. However, the amended legislation provides for immediate product patent protection for microorganisms. Further, the amended legislation fails to address the issue of patentability for pharmaceuticals in a clear and firm manner. The Indian Drug Manufacturers' Assoc-iation (idma) has been seeking a foolproof definition of the term