Monday, June 30, 2008

India, China attract clinical outsourcing'

Cost pressures, the need to tap global talent, and growth opportunities in emerging markets has led Western pharmaceutical companies to shift substantial manufacturing and clinical-trial works to India and China, according to a new study. Big pharmaceutical companies like Merck, Eli Lilly and Johnson and Johnson are now counting these two countries for advanced research and development, the study sponsored by the Ewing Marion Foundation said. Indian and Chinese scientists are rapidly innovating and creating their own intellectual property as a result of Research and Development activities, the report entitled 'The globalization of innovation: Pharmaceuticals. Can India and China Cure the Global Pharmaceutical Market".

In 2006, 5.5% of all global pharmaceutical patent applications (WIPO PCT applications) named one inventor or more were located in India, and 8.4% in China. This had increased fourfold from that in 1995. Through detailed interviews with executives of 16 pharmaceutical firms in China and India on their business models, value-chain activities, partnerships and technology capabilities, the researchers concluded that Indian and Chinese companies are making strides in most of the lucrative segments of global value chains. In less lucrative segments such as preclinical testing, animal experimentation and manufacturing, Chinese firms appear to be more prevalent while India is a more mature venue for chemistry and drug-discovery activities. Domestic Indian and Chinese firms rarely have the capital and the regulatory expertise to develop a drug beyond phase II clinical trials. Their commercial development of new intellectual property therefore necessitates relationships with major multinational corporations.

The study found that India is playing a more strategic role in early discovery and its drug companies have the most experience in selling generic drugs that meet FDA standards. Companies such as Ranbaxy, Aurigene, Advinus, Nicholas Piramal and Jubilant have negotiated long-term deals with Western pharmaceutical companies to discover and develop new chemical entities. In a growing number of cases, the Indian companies share the financial risk in discovery as well as the potential financial rewards. One Chinese company, Hutchison MediPharma, has formed a similar partnership with Eli Lilly. Others are likely to follow suit as Chinese contract research organizations gain experience and Western companies trust in China's ability to protect intellectual property, said the researchers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

India, Singapore IPR cooperation likely to be signed soon

Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath on Monday stated that a bilateral agreement on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) cooperation between the intellectual property offices of India and Singapore will be signed shortly. During his bilateral meeting with Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry of Singapore, Nath informed that as regards the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India FTA, considerable progress was made during the last meeting in Bali and added: "I am now hopeful that we would be able to achieve our target of announcing the conclusion of negotiations at the AEM-India consultations in August". During the interaction, Kamal Nath said that Singapore was India's fifth largest merchandise trading partner and fourth largest merchandise export market and added that India's exports to Singapore grew by 16 per cent in the year 2007-08 compared to a growth of 42 per cent in the imports from Singapore.

He further stated that Singapore ranks fourth in terms of foreign direct investment in India during the period 1991-2008 with investments of 4.7 billion dollars. The total bilateral trade during 2006-07 was 11.49 billion dollars and has increased by 25.88 per cent to 13.42 billion dollars in the year 2007-08 (upto February 2008) over the same period in 2006-07. Major items of Indian exports to Singapore were: petroleum (crude and products); other commodities; transport equipments; electronic goods and non-ferrous metals. Major items of Indian imports from Singapore were: electronic goods; petroleum (crude and products); organic chemicals; machinery (except electrical and electronic) and project goods.

The top five sectors attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows from Singapore are: petroleum and natural gas, mining, services sector, construction activities and power, whereas the top five sectors attracting technology transfer are: electrical equipments (including computer software and electronics), hotel and tourism, food processing industry, chemicals (other than fertilizer) and miscellaneous mechanical and engineering industries.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Infosys expands patent portfolio in the United States

Infosys Technologies has announced that it has been granted two patents by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). These patents are in the area of holography and mobile communications. This is the first time that Infosys has bagged patents from the US Patent and Trademark Office work done by its Software Engineering and Technology Labs (SETLabs), a 500-people center comprising researchers, engineers and consultants.

The Lab, set up in 2000 with the aim of bolstering research practices, has filed over 100 patent applications in the last 18 months. The two patents have come at a time when the company is looking at non-linear growth model, breaking the link between revenue and employee growth.
Subu Goparaju, head of Software Engineering & Technology Labs (SETLabs), the research arm of Infosys said, "the patent titled 'displaying holographic three dimensional (3-D) images' describes the realization of actual 3-D communication using computer-generated holography to send/receive information and the associated optical elements required to make a lightweight handset.

Existing technologies use high resolution LCD to give the illusion of 3-D while actually displaying a 2-D image. Actual 3 dimensional imaging which includes a representation of depth information along with amplitude information is not being used in these cases. This patent addresses the issue of 3-D in mobile communication.

The patent titled "method and system for providing reliable and fast communications with mobile entities" proposes a mobile Internet Protocol-based solution to support generic mobility over heterogeneous networks.

There are a number of problems to be overcome to support generic mobility over heterogeneous networks today. This solution leverages a split-TCP type approach where the TCP connection between the communication entities is split at a suitable gateway.

The solution does not require any extension at the mobile host and provides improved performance even for mobility across heterogeneous networks due to an inherent ability to adapt to changing network characteristics. It supports communication between two mobile hosts or between a fixed and a mobile host, where mobile host(s) can roam over heterogeneous networks and also supports a layer 3 handoff.

Across Indian IT services companies, the $5.7-billion TCS has filed over 200 patent applications in the last five years. Says Avinash Vashishta, CEO, Tholons (an advisory firm), "India IT majors have been running a software factory and R&D is one area where they have to do a lot. The focus being services, barring a few small exceptions they have not been able to create a business around R&D — that is, develop IP products and market them." Now, to get to the higher billing tasks and delink revenue growth from manpower growth, a focus on R&D is a must. The top IT majors could show the way.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

E-filing in India, a long way to go [IP in India]

The government’s ambitious project to encourage electronic filing of patent and trademark applications has received an embarrassingly poor response in its first year. Of the 35,000 patent applications filed last year, only 410 (1.17%) were filed online. Worse, only 0.24% or 242 of the one lakh trademark applications during 2007-08 were filed online.

The facility for filing of patent and trademark applications from anywhere in the world at any time through the Internet, was launched in July 2007 to help the Indian Patent and Trade Mark Offices function as paperless offices. Government officials termed the poor show as “teething troubles” and blamed it on ignorance and reluctance on the part of Companies and individuals to use the new system.

To correct the situation, the government had asked patent officers and the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to provide training to patent attorneys, through a programme conducted in the four metros. Consequently, in the two months of the current financial year, online applications for patents and trademarks have improved marginally. Online applications constituted 4.9% of the 6,000 patent applications filed so far in this financial year while it also constituted 1.34% of the 20,000 trademark applications.

Currently, there are only about a dozen countries that have e-filing facilities, with India recently becoming a member of this elite group which consists of countries like USA , Japan , South Korea, China and the European Patent Office. With patent applications from China outstripping those from India by leaps and bounds, the Centre has launched a national awareness, sensitisation and consultancy programme by roping in universities, laboratories, state level chambers of commerce and industry, patent attorneys and the scientific community.

The proactive campaign which involves an outlay of Rs 20 crore, would establish a correlation between intellectual property, innovation, productivity and competitiveness. The objective of the programme was to take the intellectual property regime to the bottom of the industrial pyramid and invigorate the proprietary rights culture in the country. An effective online filing system can prove to be the lynchpin for this strategy’s success.

The benefits of e-filing of patent and trademark applications include getting an application number immediately, on-line verification assuring error-free filing and obtaining the filing date, a speedy registration process, being able to save the date locally in the applicant’s personal computer, printing the completed application data and recalling the contact details for subsequent applications. This would have meant savings on paper, valuable time and money.

Payments can be made through the Payment Gateway of authorised bankers, which would save time and money and also put an end to the hassles involved in visiting and filing the applications in the offices. NIC has developed modules for e-filing and on-line processing with State Bank of India providing the payment gateway.

But patent lawyers said though the e-filing system is a major improvement over the previous one, it also hasits own limitations.

Incidentally, the government is working towards sending more officials to be trained by the World Intellectual Property Organisation, UNIDO, as well as Japanese and US patent offices. Several vacant posts of patent examinees also need to be filled up.

To enhance the prestige of the Indian Patent Office (IPO) and to attract work from abroad, the government is also in the process of transforming IPO into an International Search Authority and an International Preliminary Examining Authority under the Patent Cooperation Treaty. Currently, there are only 12 such authorities.

Besides, India would soon join the Madrid Protocol on Trade Marks. Madrid Protocol is a simple and cost-effective system for registration of International Trademarks. India’s membership of the Madrid Protocol will aid Indian Companies in registering their trademarks in other member countries of the Protocol through a single application.

FICCI advocates 'knowledge centres' [India]

Industry body Ficci today said knowledge and education centres should be set up in patent offices across the country to educate the public with the role of Intellectual Property in emerging economies. The centres could house exhibition areas, besides making available literature on Intellectual Property to create awareness about protection and enforcement of IP, according to a Ficci release.

Ficci and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) have constituted a Consultative Working Group to make the Indian Patent Office more responsive to industry. In recommendations made to DIPP, Ficci said users who file patent applications electronically should be incentivised by reducing their filing fee. Transactions of records across patent offices also need to be expedited, it said.

As a result of deliberations of the consultative group, a separate wing in Mumbai Patent Office has been set up for data analysis. The data include records on technical fields by year of filings, number of patents granted to a company in each sector, list of companies filing patents, pending applications and country-wise patents in force. The patent office has also made online the abstracts of patent applications as well as copies of patents granted and decisions of the controllers, enabling third parties to check legal status of the patent application, the chamber said.

Monday, June 02, 2008

India not to open legal services sector soon: Ministry of Commerce

The ongoing World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks will not lead to India opening up the legal services sector to foreign firms, Commerce Secretary Gopal Pillai said. However, he has made it clear that permitting foreign legal firms into India to deal with mergers and acquisitions (M&A) as well as arbitration cases will be beneficial. "The Indian legal services sector needs reforms that involve issues related to limited liability, number of partners and advertising restrictions. Once that is done, it has to be ready for liberalisation of the sector," Pillai said.
"In this round, we won't commit opening up of the legal services sector in the services negotiations of the Doha Round. But opening of the sector has great potential for the Indian professionals," Pillai said, adding that foreign lawyers would not come and practice in Indian district courts.
"They are interested in M&A and arbitration between companies." Currently, foreign law firms are not allowed to provide their services in India while professionals in the sector are not comfortable to liberalising the sector for foreign participation. The resistance by the Indian legal professionals for entry of foreign firms into India is because of a multitude of regulations.

For example, advocates in India are not allowed to advertise. More over, there are restrictions on the number of partners in a legal firm, which cannot cross 20. The Bar Council of India Rules prohibit Indian advocates from sharing remuneration with any person or legal practitioner who is not an advocate.
"We understand that there are limitations. But in the future most of them will be addressed. On issues of liberalisation, the commerce ministry will be guided by the law ministry as well as the Bar Council, with whom we are interacting. Surely, Indian law firms with just 20 partners will be at a disadvantage when a US firm with 2,000 partners set up base in India," added Pillai.
At present, there are nearly one million lawyers in India. The global legal services market has been estimated at $220 billion while India's share stands at $300 million.