India protests against The European Union Trademark Reforms
The IP community is well aware about the major reforms that have been implemented recently by the EU( European Union). The European Trademark law has undergone significant changes since the introduction of the Community Trademark system in 1996. The recently adopted European Trademark Reforms have brought in substantial changes not only to Community trademarks but also for owners of national trademarks in the EU.
India has been protesting without any success, against one such new directive in the area of trademark protection that could possibly lead to seizure of legitimate pharmaceutical products (including essential medicines) ,without sufficient evidence of trademark violation, while its transit through the EU region by the custom officials.
India has recently teamed up with other countries like Brazil, South Africa, China and Indonesia at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to pressurize and call off these amendments. India also believes that the new law violates various provisions of the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. An official who was privy to the recent meeting of the TRIPS council of the WTO stated the following to Business Line, “As things stand right now, pharmaceutical consignments can be confiscated if these contain items with brand names or logos similar to those registered as trademarks by other companies in the 28-member bloc,”
The EU, however, responded by saying that there are specific provisions mentioned in the trademark directive to prevent any undue detention of pharmaceutical shipments during the transit.
In the year 2008, Dutch customs authorities had seized several shipments of generic medicines originating from India . These shipments were bound for Colombia, Peru, Nigeria and Brazil .India fears that the recently implemented reforms may provide scope for repetition of such a situation. The issue was settled through mutual dialogue, after India & Brazil had filed a case against the EU at WTO. India apprehends that the new law will favor large pharmaceutical companies, based in the EU who are threatened by the cheap but high quality generic medicines from India .
It is predicted by the experts that India’s exports of generics could rise from $15.4 billion in 2014-15 to an estimated $40 billion by 2020, as per industry estimates, as a number of medicines will go off-patent over the next few years.
Authored by Sambhabi Patnaik