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US Approves Sale of UAV Technology to India

The United States has cleared the sale of the state-of-the-art Guardian 22 unmanned Guardian drones to India. The deal to sell UAV drones to India is estimated to be worth $2 to $3 billion. Though the deal has been approved by the State Department, an official announcement regarding the deal is yet to be announced.

Significance

The transfer of the state-of-the-art UAV technology to India will be the first significant progress after India’s entry into the exclusive Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and after the US has designated India as a major defence partner. India became the 35th full member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June 2016.

The transfer of Guardian UAV technology is aimed at furthering mutual security interests to protect the Indian Ocean.

The deal would also pave the way for the transfer of other key technology sales from the US to India. The Guardian unmanned aircraft has been classified as Category 1 aircraft with cutting edge technologies.

Background

Last year, the Indian Navy had requested for this intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform. The US has designated India as a “major defence partner” under the Obama Administration. The US considers India as a key player to counter the Chinese threat. However, the Guardian UAV proposal was kept in abeyance under Obama administration.

UAVs operate without a human pilot. UAVs are commonly used in both the military and police forces in situations where the risk of sending a human piloted aircraft is unacceptable, or the situation makes using a manned aircraft impractical.

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Special 301 Report: Section 3(D) of the Indian Patent Act opposed by the US

The US has taken exception to India’s level of protection provided to Intellectual Property as it brought the “Special 301 Report” for the year 2014 which classifies India as a “Priority watch list country”. The reports mentions US concerns based on the information provided by the US industry on their perception of the level of protection provided by India to Intellectual Property.

Key issues in the report include:

  • Concerns over the provision of Section 3(d) of the Patent Act which relates to non-patentability of inventions involving chemical forms that do not show increased efficacy
  • Issue of Compulsory License by the Controller General of Patent, Designs and Trademarks under section 84 of the Patents Act

Inclusion of a statement relating to Compulsory License for green technologies in India’s National Manufacturing Policy and challenges relating to enforcement of IP Rights.

Section 3(d) of the Indian Patent Act 1970 (as amended in 2005) prohibits grant of patent to inventions involving new forms of a known substance unless it differs significantly in properties with regard to efficacy. Thus preventing ever-greening of patents. The US pharma companies are opposed to this Act.

The “Special 301” process is a unilateral step taken by the US under their Trade Act, 1974 to put pressure on countries to enhance Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection beyond the TRIPS pact. It is an extra territorial application of the domestic law of a country and is not reasonable under the overall WTO regime.

India has a sound legislative, administrative and judicial framework to protect IPRs which meets its obligations under the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement while making use of the flexibilities provided in the international regime to address its developmental concerns.

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India-US Malabar naval drill not aimed at containing China: US

The US has clarified that the annual India-US bilateral “Malabar” naval exercise which started in the Asia Pacific region is not aimed at containing China and that the exercise would strengthen the US naval presence in the Pacific Ocean region and maritime partnership with its allies.

The exercise this year has Japan as a special invitee. China had in the past raised objections over Japan’s taking part in the war-games held mainly between US and India. The last drill involving Japan was held in 2009. As per the US, the participating nations are working with specific training drills such as communication, search and rescue, helicopter cross deck evolutions and anti-submarine welfare.

Over 7,000 American defence personnel are participating in the exercise. The US battleships participating in the drill includes nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington, Ticonderoga-class destroyer USS Shiloh, Arleigh Burke-class destroyer John S McCain and nuclear submarine USS Columbus. P-3 Orion aircraft and MH-60R helicopters will also be part of this exercise.

India is participating with its three warships—INS Ranvijay and Shivalik along with fleet support tanker ship INS Shakti.

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