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An IPR Strategy to Keep India’s Innovative Economy Moving Forward

India is well on its way to developing a world-class IT sector. For example, on the strength of its dynamic human capital and extensive investments in research and development, it leapt 10 ranking positions in the 2011 edition of the 66-nation IT Industry Competitiveness Index, created for BSA by the Economist Intelligence Unit. But India has made these strides without having a strategic vision for developing and protecting intellectual property. That is, until recently.

This September, in the country’s first major effort to develop a coordinated federal plan to improve IP protections in its fast-growing and increasingly innovative economy, India unveiled a draft National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Strategy. This was a tremendously encouraging development that acknowledged the central role IP plays in competitiveness and growth.

Currently, IP enforcement is carried out with little coordination between various federal and state agencies. The new strategy calls for the establishment of a National IP Enforcement Task Force, among other steps, to bring a more unified and cohesive approach to enforcement. It also lays out a broad program to raise public awareness about the importance of IP protections. BSA strongly supports these efforts.

As the Indian government finalizes its strategy, there are opportunities for additional improvement. BSA has offered several recommendations in a public submission to the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion. For example, to address the 63 percent rate of PC software piracy in India, we urge the Indian government to include in its IPR strategy specific initiatives to ensure government agencies and corporations use only legal software. We also lay out some needed changes to strengthen India’s copyright law and call for expanded training programs for police, judges, and others involved in IP enforcement.

These recommendations build on a dialogue that BSA began fostering in earnest last November when I led a delegation of software executives to New Delhi for a series of discussions with policymakers and business leaders about India’s opportunity to accelerate IT growth. The Indian government is to be commended for the progress it has made since then in developing a comprehensive IPR strategy. Done right, it will fuel growth in the market for innovative IT products from Indian and foreign companies alike — and it will keep the country’s already vibrant economy moving forward.

Robert Holleyman

Author:

As President and CEO of BSA | The Software Alliance from 1990 until April 2013, Robert Holleyman long served as the chief advocate for the global software industry. Before leaving BSA to start his own venture, Cloud4Growth, Holleyman led the most successful anti-piracy program in the history of any industry, driving down software piracy rates in markets around the world.

Named one of the 50 most influential people in the intellectual property world, he was instrumental in putting into place the global policy framework that today protects software under copyright law. A widely respected champion for open markets, Holleyman also was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, the principal advisory committee for the US government on trade matters.

Holleyman was a leader in industry efforts to establish the legal framework necessary for cloud-computing technologies to flourish. He was an early proponent for policies that promote deployment of security technologies to build public trust and confidence in cyberspace. And he created a highly regarded series of forums for industry executives and policymakers to exchange points of view and forge agreements on the best ways to spur technology advances and promote economic growth.

Before heading BSA, Holleyman was a counselor and legislative adviser in the United States Senate, an attorney in private practice, and a judicial clerk in US District Court. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, a J.D. from Louisiana State University, and has completed the Stanford Executive Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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