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The Indian Trade and Industry Minister Kamal Nath and Swiss Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) (pdf 327 KB) in New Delhi on August 7, 2007 which creates the basis for Swiss-Indian talks on intellectual property.
The MoU establishes a bilateral committee dedicated to intellectual property which meets yearly, alternating between India and Switzerland, and is jointly presided over by the Indian Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IGE). The option of including representatives from industry and trade associations is included. The focus of the bilateral talks is issues of importance for the Swiss economy in terms of intellectual property protection in India. At the same time, the committee is a forum for exchanging information among the government agencies involved and promoting collaboration at the international level as well.
The Memorandum is part of a strategy being followed by the Federal Department of Economic Affairs to develop country-specific foreign trade agreements with Brazil, Russia, India and China (the so-called BRIC countries). These four emerging markets already account for a quarter of the global economic growth and, because of that, have the potential to catch up with the world’s most important economic powers in the near future. With a bilateral trade-volume of 2.6 billion franc (2006), India plays an increasingly important role for the Swiss economy.
The first meeting of the Indian-Swiss committee on intellectual property took place in Bangalore, India on December 13, 2007.
The focus of the first meeting was specifically questions regarding the areas of competence of the various Indian authorities for intellectual property and the reform of Indian patent law. Reinforcing collaboration on protecting geographical indications and combating counterfeiting and piracy were also discussed. Written questions were also submitted which should be answered for the following meeting.
Within the framework of its visit, the Swiss delegation also met with other Indian officials and representatives from industry involved in protecting intellectual property. An agreement for increased cooperation was reached among all partners. At the same time, the visit served to maintain the good relations of Swiss industry in India.
The second meeting of the joint committee took place on 4 March 2008 in Geneva. The Indian delegation was led by Joint Secretary Naresh Nandan Prasad, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion under the Indian Ministry of Trade and Industry, while the Swiss delegation was led by Felix Addor, Deputy Director General of the Institute of Intellectual Property.
The goal of the meeting was to further develop the topics of the first meeting in more concrete terms as well as a general overview of the situation of intellectual property protection on both sides. The topics with priority were the sustainable protection of geographical indications, trademark protection, and issues in the amended Indian patent law. The meeting took place in an exceptionally constructive and transparent atmosphere.
An interim meeting was held on 24 September 2008 in Geneva. Besides a general appraisal and the continuation of the dialog, preparations for the 3rd meeting of the joint committee in the week of 17 November 2008 in India were agreed.
The third meeting of the joint committee took place in Delhi and was lead by Joint Secretary Naresh Nandan Prasad and DDG Felix Addor. The goal of the meeting was to lay the foundation for a productive continuation of the IP dialog, for a further excellent cooperation in various topical matters of intellectual property as well as for a better understanding of the legal situation and the procedures in the other side’s country.
Many issues and open questions were discussed extensively, inter alia, relating to the law of patents, trademarks and other distinctive signs. Also covered by the bilateral exchange were geographical indications and the mutual efforts by India and Switzerland at the international level, in particular the WTO, to achieve better protection of such indications. The meeting took place again in a very constructive and open atmosphere.
The Indian and the Swiss delegation agreed to hold the 4th meeting of the joint committee in summer 2009 in Berne.
At the request of the Indian side, the bilateral dialogue on intellectual property was suspended in 2011 until further notice.
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