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A BIT of IPR protection needed: U.S.

With less than two weeks before U.S. President Barack Obama travels to India to join the Republic Day celebrations, senior officials in Washington have identified both the slow-moving Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) negotiations and disagreements on Intellectual Property Right (IPR) protections as key areas for progress in the days and months ahead.

Speaking at an event hosted by the American Security Project, Charles Rivkin, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, linked the BIT and IPR when he explained that if BIT negotiations moved forward, “it would form the framework for U.S.-India investment and trade. With the BIT would come a discussion on IPR protection.”

Underscoring the particular impact that such policy advances could have on stemming the rise of digital piracy, Mr. Rivkin, a former Ambassador to France, spoke of his meetings with Bollywood representatives during a recent trip to India.

He said, “Meeting the leaders of Bollywood and knowing how much they would want to protect the IP they have created, we have a commonality. So I am looking to find common ground in this respect, and certainly, Bollywood is 1000 per cent on our side to push forward anti-camcording legislation in India…”

If the Indian government implemented anti-camcording legislation, Mr. Rivkin added, “It would have a big impact on stopping digital piracy, which is happening in the media space; [and it] sends a signal: any entrepreneur, investor or small business that wants to invest abroad is looking for… transparency, predictability and rule of law.”

The Assistant Secretary emphasised the need for reaching common ground especially given that India “has some cases of a different philosophy from America on IP and certainly in the pharmaceutical and other spaces there is some intellectual debate.”

To further this goal in the bilateral space, Mr. Rivkin announced that on January 14, the State Department had “kick-started” the ICT Working Group, regarding which he could “attest to the lean-forward interest by the Indian government as well as by our tech community, our businesses here, in advancing this industry and helping India achieve its digital objectives.”

In light of the fact that India will have 550 million people online by 2018, Mr. Rivkin noted, the U.S. was keen to help the Modi government realise its vision for digital India, which would improve growth opportunities there and help create jobs back home in the U.S.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 9:18:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/a-bit-of-ipr-protection-needed-us/article6792857.ece

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