India’s secret weapon

India is rapidly evolving into Asia's innovation centre, leaving China in the dust. So what is the country's secret weapon? Intellectual property-rights protection, say Richard Wilder, counsel to the Association for Competitive Technology, and Pravin Anand, managing partner of Anand and Anand in New Delhi, India.

  • Thanks to international treaties such as the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) of the World Trade Organisation, Indian intellectual property-rights laws were significantly revamped starting in the mid 1990s; the amended Indian Copyright Act which clearly explains the rights of a copyright holder and the penalties for infringement of copyrighted software has been called one of the "toughest in the world."

  • As a result, copyright-based industries such as the Indian IT sector have enjoyed rapid growth; the annual average rate of growth of Indian software exports from 1994 to 2002 was 48 per cent, marking a drastic surge from the preceding five years, when the average annual growth was about 35 per cent.

  • Furthermore, Indian entrepreneurs, business and government labs are filing for patents at rapidly increasing rates; the number of Indian patent applications filed has increased 400 per cent over the past 15 years.

    New Delhi's actions are a stark contrast to those of other nations like China and Brazil. When it comes to reigning in the rampant piracy of music, movies and software, these governments are lagging behind India. But to truly reach their potential for creativity and innovation, other emerging economic powers could take a few pointers from New Delhi. As recent history has shown, IPR protection is the secret to success, say Wilder and Anand.

    Source: Richard Wilder and Pravin Anand, India's Secret Weapon, Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2006.

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