Tag Archives: globalization.

IP Law and Trade Policies Compete With Medical Needs

The role of Intellectual Property Law and Trade Policies in Innovation and the access to medicines and medical technologies compete against each other in the Corona impacted world.

COVID-19 has shaken the world and medical technological breakthroughs with new vaccines or drugs would be the only way to save mankind. A global health crisis always triggers concerns over patented medicines and treatments that may impede access to affordable healthcare. A global pandemic or a health crisis stimulates the need for better access to medicines, creating a gray area between the protection of ideas, investments, and access to medicines for the larger good of public health. 

The Emerging Issue     

Intellectual Property Rights awards exclusivity to the inventor or the owner to manufacture and sell their invention.  

Almost a decade ago when HIV/AIDS had become a global crisis, concerns of better access to medicines were raised. Developing nations had concerns with regard to the implementation of strong Intellectual Property regimes as it would have a negative effect on the efforts to improve public health, thereby making it difficult for governments to have policies for affordable healthcare.

The major problem in developing nations is that the prime population pays for their own drugs and state provisions are selective and constrained. Though the concept of state health insurance schemes is blooming, its effectiveness, to date, is questionable. 

A similar situation exists in the current scenario for COVID-19 where not only are the beds in each hospital limited, but extravagant costs have to be borne by patients.

In Tamil Nadu, India, private hospitals are charging a whopping amount of Rs 30,000 per day, even though government orders state otherwise, capping the charges at Rs 7500 for mildly asymptomatic patients and in case they have been admitted to Intensive Care Unit then the charges are capped at maximum Rs. 15,000 per day. Claims of unfair charges are popping up every day where hospitals are being accused of merely robbing patients.

Not only that, exploitative pricing has become a common predicament in most Asian Countries where hospitals are overcharging in COVID-19 rapid tests. The rapid test packages offered by hospitals have been differing from 500,000 rupiah to 5.7 million rupiah ($32 to $365). Exorbitant pricing remains an issue in the United States as well, where an individual faced a $1.1 million hospital bill.

Access to proper healthcare has already started becoming a concern with hospitals turning the major crisis into a money minting machine, even when there is no absolute drug or vaccine for the disease. The concern is, if every entity starts to look at this crisis as an opportunity, sustaining public policy will be a distant task for the government.

The Exclusivity of a Patent 

The key objective of the patent system is to reward exclusively to the innovator for an invention that is novel and has some industrially enhanced efficacy to it. The patented innovation could be a product or a process, as engraved in the TRIPs (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Right) Agreement, 1995. The patentee creates a solution to a problem and as an incentive, an exclusive right is given to the owner, to produce and sell it, for 20 long years. The pharmaceutical industry is majorly dependent on the patent system to recover its research and development cost and to generate profits for future innovation.

The Competing Interest: Public Health

Compulsory licensing is an act where the government authorizes a third-party to use, make and sell a patent without the permission of the patentee or the owner, when the medicine is not available at a reasonable and affordable price or when it is not obtainable in a justified quantity. Compulsory Licensing and competition from generic or biosimilar products are general issues that threaten many patent holders. A competing interest is involved here, where on one side, there is a greater good of public interest where the ownership of technological innovation should be with the public, and on the other side, there is private ownership of patents fuelling further innovations. 

Biosimilar and generic drugs are sold at a cheaper price and are said to have a trade-distorting effect. However, the provision of consensual licensing instead of any legal compulsion might be a silver lining to this whole circumstance. The possibility stems from the current world scenario where corporate social responsibilities on Multinational Corporations (MNC’s) are an obligation and a single-minded pursuit of business is no more encouraged. This can definitely balance the competing interests of the right holders and the public interest at large. 

With the current COVID-19 scenario, the World Health Organization has accepted a proposal for patent pooling in order to collectively share the patent right, test data, and information required to create drugs and vaccines. It showcases an attempt towards navigating patent rights for all countries thereby making new innovations available to everyone.

Patent Pooling is a framework where one or two patent holders enter into an agreement to share their innovation by means of licensing with each other or with a third party in order to provide fruitful technological solutions. Patent pooling can even help in the scenario where technology is not entirely developed and thereby lead to new innovations without any hindrance to access.

However, with the United States trying to quit the World Health Organization, a question emerges – ‘in case they do terminate their relationship, how is the patent pool going to function?’ We all know what happened to the International Trade Organization when the United States chose not to be a part of it and now with the changes in the current arrangement, the question emerges again. The world is approaching multilateralism and is finally able to compromise with nationalism in order to work in solidarity. 

Lahama Mazumdar is currently working as a Teaching Assistant in National University of Study and Research in Law, Ranchi and is a doctoral student at National Law University Odisha. 

Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World

May 16–October 6


This story was sent to us and Co-organized by San José Museum of Art (SJMA) and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA)

Organized by Lauren Schell Dickens, curator, SJMA and Jodi Throckmorton, curator, PAFA

Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World is the first mid-career retrospective of the artist’s work. The exhibition presents almost twenty years of Banerjee’s large-scale installations, sculptures, and paintings—including a re-creation of her work from the 2000 Whitney Biennial; sculptures featured in the 2017 Venice Biennale; and recent work for the Prospect 4 New Orleans biennial.

Rina Banerjee (b. 1963 in Calcutta, India) grew up in London and eventually moved to New York. While the visual culture that she experienced as a child in India greatly influences her aesthetic,  her immigration to the UK and her love of the diverse culture of her current home, New York City, form the core of her practice. Banerjee creates vivid sculptures and installations made from materials sourced throughout the world. She is a voracious gatherer of objects—in a single sculpture one can find African tribal jewelry, colorful feathers, light bulbs, Murano glass, and South Asian antiques in conflict and conversation with one another. These sensuous assemblages reverberate with bright colors and surprising textures present simultaneously as familiar and unfamiliar.

Amidst a progressively factious turn toward nativist politics in the United States, Banerjee relentlessly creates work that reflects the splintered experience of identity, tradition, and culture often prevalent in diasporic communities. Significantly, her career as an artist, beginning in the late 1990s, parallels the expansion of the global art world, the Internet, and the repeated rise and fall of “identity politics” in art.  Though Banerjee is one of the most important artists of the post-colonial Indian diaspora living in the United States, and her work has consistently gained visibility internationally (especially in Asia and Europe), she remains relatively unknown to U.S. museum audiences.

Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World focuses on four interdependent themes in Banerjee’s work that coincide with important issues of our time: immigration and identity; the lasting effects of colonialism and its relationship to globalization; feminism; and climate change.


A full-color, ca. 160-page catalogue was published in conjunction with the exhibition and available for purchase at SJMA’s Shop.

Touring schedule

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, October 27, 2018—April 7, 2019

San José Museum of Art, May 17—September 29, 2019

Palm Springs Museum of Art, CA Spring 2020 (TBC)

Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN, August 6—October 25, 2020 (TBC)

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, NC  (TBC)

Learn more about this wonderful exhibition here:  https://sjmusart.org/exhibition/rina-banerjee-make-me-summary-world

This Article was provided to India Currents by the San José Museum of Art


Three Common Myths About Global Management Practices

businessIf you endeavor to sell your company’s products in a global marketplace, my experiences will help you navigate through unspoken cultural messages present in the workplace. I hope to share my perspective on how to “Think Globally and Act Locally.”

Myth No. 1:
Everyone understands English

I have lived in and done business in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region for over two decades. As a person of Indian origin, I found it very easy to fit into Japanese culture. They admire Indian philosophy and the fact that Buddhism originated in India thousands of years ago. Whether they follow a religious lifestyle or not, they respect the fact that most Indians adhere to a religious practice. Talking about the topic of religion becomes an excellent way to break the ice during otherwise tough business meetings. Also respecting elders, especially if the boss is older, is appreciated in the Japanese workplace.

In Japan, business meetings are conducted in English. But, is your understanding of what is being said match with their understanding? When the Japanese customer in a long winded manner says, “Mmmmm, well..it is very difficult for me to convince my management..it is not very clear…how this product benefits us…I need more data and more time.” If you walk out of that meeting thinking that he just needs more data and time and the deal is yours, your guess would be wrong! He was rejecting your product. But, he cannot say “No” to you directly—especially since you are a foreigner.  Also, unlike English, Japanese is not a definitive language with clear signals for the positive and the negative. If you face this situation in Japan, you are better off walking away from the deal. Then you should follow up by sending your Japanese colleague or middleman to invite that customer for dinner and assure him that you will come back with more data at a later time. He will remember this gesture forever and will definitely meet with you the next time you go there.

When I was in charge of business development for Japan, I used to be confused about how to react when the “big” boss attended meetings only to doze through them. I soon learnt that if the boss was alert and asked a lot of questions, it meant something was not going right during the negotiations, whereas dozing off meant that everything was proceeding smoothly!

On the other hand, in France, if you don’t get a single question during an entire 45-minute presentation, you might be mentally congratulating yourself thinking —“They agreed with me! They were eating from my palm! They had no questions!” Wrong! If a French professional doesn’t ask probing questions or argue with you, that means they are not interested. And if that happens, you might want to prep your colleague (if you have a French colleague) to ask a question and then see if the attendees pick up the thread and start asking questions. If they still don’t, you thank them and say goodbye!

Myth No, 2:
If I can sell in America, I can sell anywhere in the world

There are some countries where customers will make you go through extra scrutiny, rigorous benchmarking, asking for Proof-of-Concept in their environment to make sure your product will work in their company’s technology ecosystem or IT infrastructure—which may be significantly different from many American companies.

When you are in Germany, make sure all your calculations are noted to the 4th decimal place. Attendees are bound to take out their calculators and challenge you on numbers—unless you already specify assumptions and test conditions. If you waver in front of them, you might as well bid goodbye to your hopes of selling to them.

In the 1950s Ford sent a few cars to test the German market. They soon learnt that wipers were flying off the cars on German highways. Ford engineers were confused by this occurrence, as no such issue was reported here. They soon realized that there were no speed limits on the Auto Bahn in Germany and when the same cars were driven around a racetrack in Detroit, the wipers started flying off when the car speeds  exceeded 80 to 90 miles per hour. That’s when wind deflectors for wipers were designed and implemented.

If you are conducting business in India, it is good to remind yourself that the buyer needs to feel that they arrived at the decision independently—and not because the decision was forced. Many American companies follow a strict division of labor with technical, business and legal evaluations being carried out by technologists, business users, and lawyers respectively. In India, you have to make sure that managers belonging to various divisions are brought in to sign off on all aspects. In other words, in the U.S. each individual is considered “master of one,” whereas in India, each individual considers himself or herself, “jack of all trades and master of one!”

Myth No, 3:
Every company wants to be like an American company

In America, taking a risk with a start-up to bring in innovative products, methodologies or technologies is a common business practice. However, in Japan, for example, no one wants to be the first, but no one wants to the third either! The trick is to make sure you get the first customer that is influential enough and to make sure all other customers feel like they are the second customer in line!

For most Asia-Pacific companies, growth is carefully managed because growing a company and hiring employees is done very carefully. Most of those companies hire slowly and almost never fire. A few decades ago, a large Japanese corporation was going through financial trouble, so the management decided to cut the yearly bonus for the workers and the workers went on strike. But their strike was very different. Unlike other countries where strike means no work, these workers started working double—sometimes triple—shifts and production more than doubled. In just two weeks the management came to their knees, begged workers not to produce any more and gave them bonuses by cutting expenses elsewhere.

The point is that local culture and philosophies of different people impact buyer behavior and hence every company is not like an American company nor do they want to be and one must comprehend the differences to find success.

Even while dealing with major markets like Asia, people very often lump a number of countries together. But if you look closer you will realize that in Asia, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan and China are completely different when it comes to buyer behavior. Similarly, there is no such thing as a “European” market—there is a French market, German market, Italian market, and so on.

In fact, when traveling the world, the physical spaces within office buildings might have the ambience of a conference room within an American company. But the work culture, the incentives and subtleties that power that workplace might be vastly different.

Just like they say, “Buyer beware!”, I say, “Seller be savvy!” Recognize the differences; understand the diversity and tailor your product offering, product promotion and most importantly your own behavior, to be successful in global markets.
Think globally and act locally!

Nitin Deo is a high-tech industry executive in Silicon Valley with vast international business experience. He is in charge of product management for Aster Analytics Platform at Teradata. His business experience spans over two decades in America, Europe, Pacific Rim and India. He has helped set up sales channels for emerging software products and services. He holds degrees in enineering and management.