Before diving into details, lets do a case study :
Suppose you devise a new technology and sell it under your patent but as soon as it is launched in the markets, another similar company analyzed the technology and starts making similar device but sells it at a lower price, hampering your business. What will you do?
Here, the technology devised by you is your intellectual property(IP) and you should have the patent rights over it. Its copying is a violation of those rights and you have the right to argue about it.
Similar case happens usually with American products. They are shipped all around the world and are usually costly (as they need to pay to the manufacturers and to the developers), but as soon as these products reach their destination countries, the indigenous companies study the technology and distribute its copies under similar trademarks which are rather cheap (as it includes the cost of manufacturing only). This demotivates the innovative developers which affects the technological advancements that the world needs.
Talking about facts, then USA looks after such violations of its IP rights and categorize the countries, where such violations are observed, under its ‘watch list’, provided the countries are trying to do thier best in enforcing restrictions against such violations.
Meanwhile, there are countries which are capable of putting restrictions on domestic companies against such reverse engineering, but lack proper enforcement. These countries are enlisted in the ‘Priority watch list’ by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the list is updated annually in a ‘Special 301 Report’ which is based on section 301 of US trade act 1974. This is surely not good for these countries as they might have to go through levying of unnecessary sanctions by the USA or any other strict action can also be taken against the respective country.
Current scenario :
No. of countries in ‘watch list’ : 24
No. of countries in ‘priority watch list’ : 10
There is a list of American products on which India has put high custom duties and has also limited IP protections so as the people may get cheaper versions.
Some important items include medical devices, pharmaceuticals, solar energy devices, information and communication technology (ICT) etc.
Although the technology should be affordable for all but trademark counterfeiting may hamper the trade deals between the two countries and create a negative image of indian administration in the world. Moreover, it is harsh but true that India was ranked among the top five source economies for fake goods by the Organization of Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) in 2019.
Positive way forward : India has recently been working on restricting piracy in the online platforms for which it is praised by the USTR. Also, with proper enforcement, it can be expected that the same will be applied to most of other patented commodities to uplift the trade relations between the two countries.