03.12.16

India Got it Right on Software Patents, But Gives Up on Pharmaceutical Aspects

Posted in Asia, Patents at 4:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Some pills

Summary: India is surrendering to Western demands regarding patents on medicine that costs virtually nothing to produce and can save many lives

WHEN it comes to policy on software patents, we salute India in spite of the loopholes which remain (same as in New Zealand and in Europe). Last year we showed how a medical company, for instance, tried disguising software patents as "devices", or something along these lines (or “as such”).

“India’s new leadership is promising in many senses, including its policy on software procurement in government.”India’s new leadership is promising in many senses, including its policy on software procurement in government. It’s driving Microsoft mad, as we noted last year (see the Wiki page “Microsoft influence in the Indian government” for more details).

We were somewhat disappointed to have stumbled upon this IP Watch article from yesterday. “Today,” it said, “Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) filed a patent opposition against Pfizer’s vaccine for pneumonia in India.”

“How far can this patent maximalism go?”Yes, the Big Pharma industry (derogatory term for multinational drug monopolies) is getting its way and patent maximalists like IAM are seemingly jubilant. “Talking to operating companies and even a few NPEs [patent trolls],” IAM wrote, “they’re paying closer attention than ever. From where I’m sitting, the overall trend looks favourable for patent owners.”

A new article by Dr. Glyn Moody, citing this article from Reuters, said: “Techdirt has been covering India’s complex relationship with pharma patents since at least 2009. In particular, we’ve been following for years India’s use of compulsory licenses to provide its people with access to life-saving drugs at affordable prices. Naturally, Big Pharma companies in both the US and EU hate that, not least because it might encourage other countries to do the same. As a result, the US pharmaceutical industry in particular has been applying political pressure to get India to stop using compulsory licenses, even though they are a perfectly legitimate policy tool under the WTO TRIPS Agreement.”

“Why is India, a country with well over a billion people, tolerating this? To appease a few dozen countries whose overall (aggregate) population is about half that of India’s?”Read the whole thing. Glyn Moody wrote an entire book covering patents on genetics or the efforts to virtually privatise life in the DNA sense. It’s no wonder that he uses terms like “Big Pharma companies”; one class of patents which we deem as unethical as (if not more unethical than) software patents is patents pertaining to life itself, or naturally-recurring phenomena (recall what informed people wrote in relation to cancer). How far can this patent maximalism go? Have we not already lost sight of the original goals of the patent systems? Why is India, a country with well over a billion people, tolerating this? To appease a few dozen countries whose overall (aggregate) population is about half that of India’s? Are Indian lives of lesser value? What are they worth in terms of patents? And what happens when people are viewed as products to be monetised?

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