India scores lowest on intellectual property protection - index

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The four members of so-called BRIC group of emerging economies - Brazil, Russia, India and China - have one more thing in common: they received the worst scores for protecting copyrights, patents and other intellectual property in a new index released on Tuesday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

A worker sorts out a portion of about 35,000 confiscated pirated film DVDs as officials prepare to destroy them in Chennai March 23, 2007. REUTERS/Babu/Files

The index prepared for the group’s Global Intellectual Property Center scored 11 countries on a point scale from zero to 25, with the United States receiving the highest overall tally of 23.73 and Britain coming in second at 22.40.

India was last with 6.24 points, reflecting its low scores in each of the five categories examined by Pugatch Consilium, an international research and analysis firm that specializes in the knowledge economy. China was tenth with a score of 9.13, below Brazil with 9.57 points and Russia with 11.17.

The new index is intended as a tool for U.S. policymakers to push for tough protections of U.S. copyrights, patents and trade secrets in free trade agreements and other international talks.

The United States, with some of the strongest copyright, patent and trademark protections in the world, has a total stock of intellectual property valued at around $5.8 trillion.

U.S. companies pride themselves on being among the most innovative in the world and see that competitive edge eroded by weak intellectual property laws in other countries.

More than 55 million Americans work in industries that depend heavily on intellectual property rights protection, making it an important jobs issue as well.

Russia’s top score among the four BRIC countries is somewhat misleading because it reflects four points it received for membership in international agreements to protect intellectual property rights.

But “for most other categories, Russia ranks at or near the bottom. Overall, Russia’s environment is characterized by a distinct contrast between its level of participation in international treaties and its de facto implementation of rules and regulations,” the report said.

India received a zero in the section awarding points for membership in international agreements, while China and Brazil received slightly higher scores.

New Delhi was also marked down for high rates of software and music piracy, and licensing policies favoring the country’s generic drug manufacturers that irk U.S. pharmaceutical companies that hold patents on the medicine.

China received only a half a point, out a possible 5, for enforcement of its laws against piracy, counterfeiting and other forms of intellectual property theft.

Beijing also got low marks for its protection of trade secrets and several other patent concerns.

Brazil was faulted for weak patent and copyright laws and received only 2.94 points out of 5 for enforcement.

The report also looked at five other countries participating in the U.S.-led talks on a proposed free trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), in which Washington is pushing for strong intellectual property protections.

Australia led those five TPP countries with a score of 21.63, followed by Canada with 14.21 points, Mexico with 12.38, Chile with 11.67 and Malaysia with 11.25.

Canada’s low score among the major developed countries reflects its weak drug patent protections and poor mechanisms to enforce intellectual property rights, the report said.

Editing by Matthew Lewis