Speaking of Intellectual Property …

Science  02 Mar 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5816, pp. 1205b
DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5816.1205b

NEW DELHI—A controversial report arguing that India's patent laws are out of line with global norms has been withdrawn under a charge of plagiarism. One paragraph of the report, delivered to the government late last year by a blue-ribbon panel chaired by India's top expert on intellectual property, Raghunath Anant Mashelkar, states that incremental innovations to a patented product “may be of tremendous value … [and] ought to be encouraged.” Analysts say that statement favors pharmaceutical companies and could sway a case in Madras High Court in which the drug giant Novartis has challenged India's rejection of its patent application for the cancer drug Gleevec.

Mashelkar has acknowledged that the paragraph on incremental innovations was copied verbatim, unacknowledged, from another source: “A slip did happen, and I deeply regret it.” Last week, he offered to submit a new version in 3 months that would follow “best ethical practices.” Some in Parliament have demanded that the government scrap the Mashelkar committee and start over. The government earlier this week said it is still weighing its response.

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