Clarifying the Myths Surrounding GWU-CII IP Summit: A Response from Dean Lawrence

As a follow up to the GWU-CII controversy, I present to you the excerpts from the blog of Dean Fredrick Lawrence, George Washington University Law School where he shared his views surrounding the controversy and clarified several misconceptions.
 Dean Lawrence reiterated that the only agenda of GWU is to “foster discussion,dialogue and knowledge.” and it is with this objective that the Intellectual Property Law Summit was flagged.On the issue surrounding the sponsors of the Summit (readers will remember that the letter addressed to Mr.Anand Sharma,Minister for Commerce and Industry questioning the role of DIPP as a co-organizer of the 2010 Summit), Dean Lawrence specifically stated that :
“.. sponsors’ contributions, while helping us co-host events in India, do not dictate what anyone can or will say. In fact, GW Law does not support, encourage or endorse anyone’s particular statement at the symposium, including our own faculty whose views and opinions expressed are their own. Any speaker’s statement is not attributable to us. Participants have the right to speak freely without threat of reprisal as this is critical to the promotion and success of a dialogue.”

Allegations were also leveled against the pharma cos suggesting that the Summit served as a platform for these companies to lobby against patent rejections.Responding to this,Dean Lawrence said:

Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., a major Indian generic drug manufacturer, has not only had a representative speak every year but also has been a frequent co-sponsor of the symposium as it was this year. In past years, other generic manufacturers have spoken or were scheduled to speak. This has created a healthy, open dialogue on innovation versus generics.”
Highlighting the transparency of the Summit and the objective of fostering discussion and healthy debate about contemporary issues surrounding IP,Dean Lawrence referred to the  2007 symposium where Professor Shamnad Basheer,  Ministry of Human Resource Development Chair in Intellectual Property Law at the National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata, prompted a lively discussion by arguing in support of section 3(d) of the Patent Act 1970 as an “enhanced patentability standard” and within the boundaries of the  Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). At that event, the late Sir Hugh Laddie,  openly challenged the views on patents as put forth by a GWU faculty and  questioned whether they make sense for India. This is precisely the kind of debate GW Law and the other symposium organizers seek to foster and that has been fostered in prior years.
The moot court competition organized at this year’s Summit was  highly criticized by several quarters who suggested that  instead of honing the skills of argumentation, the mock trials were aimed at discussing patent enforcement issues pending in the courts.To this Dean Lawrence said:

“GW Law usually co-hosts a moot court on an IP issue, in which U.S. lawyers present mock arguments before U.S. judges on a hypothetical patent issue under U.S. law followed by Indian lawyers arguing the same mock issue before Indian judges under Indian law. This year’s moot court was held at the new National Law University Delhi before a room full of students, summit delegates, and anyone else who wanted to attend. We have hosted similar moot courts at National Law School Bangalore and Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. The exercise is strictly an educational tool that allows audience members to compare and contrast how a U.S. court and Indian court would handle an IP issue.”
Ending on a positive note, Dean Lawrence signed off saying:

We take very seriously the concern that our efforts not be used as an advocacy tool for a single position, and we are committed to ensuring this balance. We plan to announce soon details for next year’s India IP initiatives that will continue and enhance the summit’s tradition of diverse and robust exchange of views. I look forward to continuing our lively discussions about IP matters.”
This response from GWU has indeed  provided a much needed balanced response to the serious allegations posed earlier.It will be interesting to see how the critics  respond to this.

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