Race to Space - Space Activities Bill, 2017 - commercialization of space

Spearheaded by the Department of Space and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), India has developed low cost indigenous space capabilities for peaceful purposes over five decades. The proposed Space Activities Bill, 2017 (Bill), seeks to dismantle the Government monopoly on space and encourage private sector involvement. Will it lead to advancement of the space programme?

Globally, the space sector is no longer the preserve of Governments, as entry barriers to private players are being lifted[1]. The need for technological advancement, cost reduction and emerging opportunities such as mineral exploration of planets, are some of the reasons for encouraging the private sector. ISRO began commercialising certain space activities by opting for a public-private partnership model[2]. It has since seen many start-ups, but has yet to translate into a wider role for the private sector.  
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Intellectual property (IP) forms part of our overall growth strategy. This is the message that the Indian government is sending out like never before, as is evident from a number of measures that have been put in place in recent times. The trends show that the government is keen not just to augment efficiency at the Controller’s office, but also to make an effort from a regulatory and legislative perspective. Some of the changes strongly reflect the government’s resolve to push for massive digitisation to strengthen transparency and bring uniformity and consistency into the way the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) functions. The changes are aimed at boosting investor confidence in the long term and signal that India is a pro-IP destination with a conducive environment for innovation and the protection of IP.

The IP regime has been on course to harmonise with internationally accepted jurisprudence ever since India signed up for the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) with new laws, regulations and authorities set up one after the other in compliance with the international obligations. Amendments in patent and copyright laws, new laws on trademarks, design, geographical indications, semiconductor topographies, plant variety and biodiversity marked the beginning of this century. Coupled with these legislative changes, there were also steady changes in the administration with new IP offices and infrastructure set up.


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This blog piece is excerpted from a previously published article in the Express Pharma, April 16-30 Issue and addresses the patent jurisprudence and issues in the pharmaceutical industry in India.

Innovation is the root of success in the competitive world of today. Creativity manifests in new ideas and technologies. New technologies when adopted make life easy. This could not be more true than for the pharmaceutical industry. With the Indian pharmaceutical industry en route to becoming a major player in the global market by 2020, there is increased activity in terms of investments in research and development, access to world class healthcare at affordable rates for the public at large and a renewed focus on development in rural markets.

Though patent law in India has existed over the years, jurisprudence related to pharmaceutical patents is still developing. From granting product patents, to specifically identifying patentable subject matter and incorporation of provisions for compulsory licensing, the law has come a long way since its inception. A conscious effort has been made to ensure that our laws are Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) compliant while supporting a larger initiative to ensure that life saving medicines are available at affordable prices (compulsory licensing, price control etc.).

Courts in India are getting increasingly sensitive to the complex and technical issues that form the pith and substance of complex pharmaceutical patent litigation. Patent litigation turns on opinion of experts and evidence, which are often absent at the preliminary stages of litigation especially the interim injunction stage. As such the practice of passing ex-parte interim injunctions has given way to a more rational and balanced approach, wherein questions of prima facie infringement, balance of convenience and irreparable injury of the parties are weighed, analysed and rationalised along with a larger public interest perspective. The Supreme Court has time and again insisted that patent matters should be handled on an expedited basis especially where issues of public health, access to life saving drugs and commercial interests are involved and that matters should expeditiously head to trial. Courts are thankfully paying heed to this. Times are changing.


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