Consider this scenario: An Indian shipment of pharmaceuticals bound for Venezuela makes a pit stop at a Dutch port, where local customs sieze the goods, citing counterfeiting and patent infringement.
A trade promotion agency in India cries foul, saying the drugs are perfectly legal in Latin America, LiveMint writes. But the European Commission is non-committal, citing ongoing litigation in national courts. And a patent lawyer points to problematic definitions of counterfeit drugs that could lead to misinterpretation of intellectual property rights violations, according to the news service.
Such instances are on the rise, LiveMint continues, as countries and businesses start fighting turf wars over intellectual property rights and use local laws and international guidelines to their advantage. In particular, a new battleground seems to have opened up over shipments of India’s drug exporters meant for Latin America that are being seized in transit by European Union countries.
In the last month, Swift Laboratories and several other bulk drugmakers - all of them small- and mid-sized firms - have had shipments seized at EU ports, according to the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council (Pharmexcil), an agency set up by India’s commerce ministry, LiveMint writes.
“In the last couple of months, we have been receiving an increasing number of reports from pharma exporters about their consignments being seized in European Union countries including Germany, France, the UK and the Netherlands,” said Pharmexcil executive director PV Appaji, tells LiveMint.
This would force exporters to look at alternative routes to send shipments, which is likely to increase costs and hurt the competitiveness of Indian generic drugmakers, according to Ind-Swift vice-chairman NR Munjal.
EU authorities maintainedr the seizures were made because the meds violated intellectual property rights and were, therefore, counterfeit. Pharmexcil, for its part, says the seized products - which were meant for largely unregulated Latin American markets - are genuine and legal. “These are not substandard or in anyway of compromised quality. Besides, they are not meant for the European market but are just using EU ports while in transit to markets in Latin America, where they do not violate any laws,” Appaji tells LiveMint.