Social responsibility is not antithetical to strong intellectual property protection, Prabha Sridevan, Chairperson of Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB), Chennai, has said.

Delivering the inaugural address at the third national annual workshop for law students on rethinking intellectual property rights, organised by the Inter-University Centre for Intellectual Property Rights Studies at Cochin University of Science and Technology on Wednesday, Ms. Sridevan said that business was always money-oriented and the pharmaceutical industry was no exception.

She said consumers of pharmaceutical products cannot be equated with the consumers of other products. The demand for other consumer items was elastic because it was dependent upon price changes, she said.

However, the need of consumers of pharmaceutical products was inelastic as they needed to procure medicines irrespective of the price. “No choice is left to the patients,” she said. Ms. Sridevan expressed doubts as to how far the trade regime could effectively accommodate TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) flexibilities like compulsory licensing. The needs of each country were different and each country needed to fine tune its legislation to suit its national concerns, she said.

Stating that the motto of IPAB is to achieve a balanced patent system, which caters to both ‘innovation’ and ‘access’, Ms. Sridevan said that patent law was an instrument of balance. She said the needs of private business entrepreneurship in inventing new pharmaceutical products had to be balanced with that of society’s need to access essential medicines.

N.S. Gopalakrishnan, Director, Inter University Centre for IPR studies, said that the objective of the annual workshop was to develop critical thinking among the talented young generation of law students against the western notion of Intellectual Property Rights.

Ramachandran Thekkedath, Vice-Chancellor of Cusat, presided over the event.

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