Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Our relationship with India - the sequel

Milk traders in a market in IndiaOn Thursday 19 May 2011, the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee initiated an inquiry into New Zealand’s relationship with India.

The terms of reference for the inquiry are to:
  • Consider trade, tourism, and opportunities including investment.
  • Examine strategic opportunities for both New Zealand and India resulting from new opportunities for engagement particularly flowing from technological innovation.
  • Determine any untapped opportunities for growing the relationship in the areas of science, medicine, defence, education, and culture.
NZIPA written submission

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, the New Zealand Institute of Patent Attorneys (NZIPA) made a submission to the Committee.  A copy of our submission is available here.

The main points of our submission are that India:
  • does not extend professional legal privilege to our clients
  • provides no data protection for agricultural and medicine related data
  • does not provide copyright protection for three dimensional works
  • requires proof of working of patents
  • cannot adequately manage trade mark applications
Oral submission

In October this year, Tim Jackson and I rocked up to present oral submissions to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee on behalf of the NZIPA.

We didn't have a lot of time to submit so we focussed on the privilege issue.  I can't say how our submission was received.  But I can say that I've seen the same reaction at a fancy dress party when the only one in fancy dress turns up.

Hon Pete Hodgson raised the fact that our Patents Act doesn't reciprocate rights that India already grants.  I pointed out that our Patents Act dates back to 1953.  It has been under review since 1989.  And there is a current Bill on the Parliamentary Order Paper.

Dr Paul Hutchison asked what the point was of Indian intellectual property.  Fisher & Paykel (Appliances or Healthcare - not sure which) and Rakon just get copied.  In answer I said that India has stronger IP laws than we have in our proposed Patents Bill.  One example is our proposed approach to patent protection for computer implemented inventions.

Committee report

The Report is now out and is available here.

It is good to see that the Committee has been made aware "that there are many opportunities for New Zealand to engage with India in science and innovation, particularly in areas such as pharmaceutical research, food technology, agricultural and horticultural science, and ICT".

Unfortunately, it seems that such opportunities will need to be pursued within the existing legal frameworks of the respective countries.

The Committee recommendation is simply that "the Government assist the New Zealand business community in pursuing opportunities for trade with India in ICT, creative industries, aviation, engineering, science and innovation".

Photo courtesy of author ILRI under Creative Commons licence.

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