Public Interest Legal Support and Research Centre (New Delhi)

My summer internship has been excellent thus far! I have been working with Dr. Rajeev Dhavan, who is a Supreme Court advocate in India. Dr. Dhavan directs the Public Interest Legal Support and Research Centre (PILSARC) and is affiliated with the National Working Group on Patent Laws in India. Through his extensive collection of working papers, primary research, and important contacts I have managed to explore various aspects of the new patent regime that has been recently enacted in India.

A good amount of time has been spent studying the various Indian patent amendment acts that were meant to prepare India for TRIPS compliance in 2005. I have been asked to document the incremental changes that have been made to the 1970's Patent Act through these amendments. It has been interesting to note the shift in the ideal balance between the rights of the patent holder and those of the consumers and the rest of society.

Generally, members of the domestic pharmaceutical industry believe that several procedural changes in the patenting process favor the patent holder, as opposed to the interests of the consumer. While the legal changes do allow for compulsory licensing, for example, the process of obtaining a compulsory license remains questionable in terms of practical application. Whether domestic companies, which are dwarfed in size and power by the multi-national corporations, can satisfy the conditions required for obtaining compulsory licensing may depend ultimately on their ability to retain good lawyers!

Substantively, there are also several controversial changes that have been made such as the patentability of micro-organisms and the definition of pharmaceutical substances. It has been very informative to attain both a legal perspective on these changes through the supervision of Dr. Dhavan, as well as a more general sense of the economic and social impact of these changes through interviews with various experts in the field.

I have been very delighted with everyone's willingness to meet with me and discuss their viewpoints. However, much of the additional research is speculative at this time, as the patent act has only recently come into force. My internship experience has certainly been very trying in terms of physical conditions; Delhi has been incredibly hot and staying hydrated and healthy amidst the constant sweating and 'delhi belly' conditions has been quite the task! Yet, the research opportunity has proved to be immensely gratifying and I feel very lucky to have met many knowledgeable persons and learned much through this experience.