India, others admonished for weak patent policies

WASHINGTON (AFP) - India ranked at the bottom of 25 countries on intellectual property protection in a survey released Wednesday by a US business association.

The US Chamber of Commerce report said Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Argentina also scored low in its ranking on protection for patents, copyrights and trademarks.

The chamber released its International Intellectual Property Index, expanding the survey to 25 countries.

The ranking is based on efforts to protect the copyrights and patents that protect goods and services ranging from pharmaceuticals to software to Hollywood films.

The United States ranked at the top, followed closely by Britain and France, but none of the countries had a "perfect" score in the survey, which used 30 factors ranging from levels of counterfeiting and piracy to patents and legal protections.

India, which is known for making copycat versions of many pharmaceuticals, also ranked low for weak enforcement of patents and copyrights, and for failing to join international treaties on intellectual property protection, the report said.

China ranked 17th among the 25 countries, hurt by weak protection of trade secrets, enforcement and failure to sign global treaties.

"China continues to show strength in the patents arena, earning the highest score of all middle-income countries and even out-performing high-income countries such as Chile and UAE (United Arab Emirates," the report said.

"While progress is being made, China's overall IP environment continues to see challenges, particularly in regard to trademark and trade secrets.

Russia, ranked 13th of the 25, made progress in protecting copyrights by implementing takedown requirements for "information intermediaries," the report said.

Ranked eighth, Canada scored lower than most of the higher-income nations because of its "treatment of pharmaceutical patents, copyright laws, and unwillingness to ratify international IP treaties." US Senator Orrin Hatch, who spoke at a forum introducing the report, said it is in the interests of the United States and its trading partners to step up intellectual property protection.

"Countries that strengthen their intellectual property rights enjoy tremendous economic benefits,' Hatch said.

"Yet intellectual property protection around the world is continually at risk." Hatch singled out India as "the biggest battlefield" for intellectual property rights and said the Asian economic power "misuses its own IP system to boost its domestic industries." He added that India is plagued by "rampant piracy and counterfeiting" and weak enforcement of patents and other property rights.

None of the 25 countries surveyed received a perfect score of 30, but the United States received the highest score of 28.52, making it the global leader, the chamber said.

"The United States may lead the overall ranking, but has fallen behind in its enforcement efforts," said David Hirschmann, who heads the chamber's Global Intellectual Property Center.

"Therefore, we urge the Obama administration and Congress to expand on current enforcement programs and allocate dedicated resources throughout the government to effectively enforce IP rights and protect consumers."