04.23.16

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Threatens to Bring Software Patents to India

Posted in Asia, Patents at 7:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

RCEP threatens to hamper (software) development in India

India Gate
India Gate

Summary: The creeping threat of another so-called ‘trade’ deal whose impact favours monopolies against the interests on Indians and must thus be rejected by Indians

THE Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has been mentioned alongside the TPP recently. For a little information about what makes it so controversial see the press release titled “MSF Concerned About New Threat to Affordable Medicines in Trade Negotiations with India and ASEAN” among several others, including media reports [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. It has all the elements of a corporations-led ‘trade’ deal, where large multi-national corporations pile up their wishlists and try to make their selfish desires multi-national laws, all in one fell swoop, usually after negotiations behind closed doors and sometimes bribery of politicians (see the incidents in Japan for example).

“It has all the elements of a corporations-led ‘trade’ deal, where large multi-national corporations pile up their wishlists and try to make their selfish desires multi-national laws, all in one fell swoop, usually after negotiations behind closed doors and sometimes bribery of politicians (see the incidents in Japan for example).”One interesting element of the coverage about RCEP is the “TRIPS plus provisions”. RCEP shows that India too is affected by this whole patent coup, where the national interests of India are undermined in secret (as the public would be furious if the proceedings were known). An even more interesting tidbit is brought up in relation to unions [1, 2] and next week there will be a resumption of the talks in Australia (this corporate takeover of the world seems to be Anglo-Saxon-leaning).

Given India’s rules on software patents, which resemble somewhat the EPO‘s, one must watch out for the impact on software patenting. As the Economic Times put it yesterday, “RCEP talks could affect startups by allowing patenting of computer software” and to quote the author:

The ongoing Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a mega trade agreement being negotiated between 16 countries including India, could have an adverse impact on the startup and technology services industries, if a clause on software patents is allowed to pass.

“The proposed clause in the Free Trade Agreement being negotiated could result in floodgates being opened for patents in the field of software,” Software Freedom Law Centre said in a letter to the Commerce Secretary, dated April 18.

“This will make writing code and innovating in the field of software a risky proposition akin to stepping on a minefield, with the developer unaware of when he could be accidentally infringing on a patent. This could also hinder the success of the ‘Digital India’ programme and hurt the domestic software/IT industry as well as the ‘Make in India’ initiative,” it further adds.

This quotes Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC), which previously did some fine work in India ahead of the rejection (again) of software patents.

We encourage readers who are in India to put pressure against RCEP ahead of next week’s meeting. There is a lot at stake here and lobbyists for software patents never grow tired, no matter how many times they get defeated.

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