Media goof up over India-EU ‘settlement’ ?

A few posts ago, Prashant had blogged about media reports of a settlement being finally reached in the long-standing India-EU dispute over in-transit drug seizures. Apparently the EU had agreed to amend its laws so that goods in transit could no longer be seized for patent infringement. However, there are a few things a little off about these reports it seems!

Firstly, government officials on both sides, Indian as well as EU have apparently expressed surprise at these media reports claiming this, as Reuters reports here.  They quote an Indian official as stating “It is not possible for me to confirm that report. That is not my impression. We continue with our consultations and we reserve our rights to ask for a panel” There also have been no EU officials who have gone on the record to state that the issue has been settled.

Secondly, as has been pointed out in the comments section of that post, it is not possible for the executive branch to ‘guarantee’ that there will be an amendment in the Customs Regulation. The European Commission, which is representing the EU on the international stage, has a limited role with respect to legislation and amendment is limited to proposing it. There will certainly be persuasive power, but the ‘promising’ of an amendment does not really mean anything. It’s neither appropriate to make such promises, nor so to believe them.

And finally, the Nokia case which deals precisely with the interpretation of the controversial provision in question here(we reported on earlier here) has been referred to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary hearing, and is thus before the ECJ currently.

The above reasons seem to point towards a massive goof up with the media earlier reporting that the settlement had finally been agreed on! It’s yet to be seen what happens with this. In the mean time, it seems Prashant’s prior post is still the most current (and verified) update that we have.


  1. AvatarSK

    The press does seem to be thoroughly confused on this front:

    The Financial Express, for example, notes today (11 Oct.) that:
    “Even after the Centre proclaimed victory in the drug seizure row and made clear its plans to withdraw complaint against the European Union from the World Trade Organisation, industry stakeholders in the domestic market are not relieved and remain sceptical about EU’s intentions.”

    This, despite the Reuters report on 7 Oct. you mention noting that “India officials say may still escalate EU drugs case”

    With the final ACTA draft out now though, personally, I do hope that the dispute reaches the panel stage.

  2. AvatarSK

    I guess this lifts the fog at least partially:

    “India will not withdraw its case against the European Union at the World Trade Organisation for wrongful seizure of drug consignments belonging to Indian companies until the regional grouping agrees to amend its Customs laws to prevent such action in future, commerce secretary Rahul Khullar said.” (Oct. 12, 2010)

  3. AvatarAnonymous

    This is not a goof up by the media.. Its a goof by by the minister himself.. who made the statement in a public function… It will be similar to you writing a report quoting a statement by EC saying matter resolved while it may not be.. So, it will be wrong to say goofed up. It easy to criticise without knowing facts

  4. AvatarSK

    Here’s the latest (Oct. 20):

    “India believes a row with the European Union over seizures of generic drugs will be settled without litigation, Trade Minister Anand Sharma said on Wednesday.”

    It is interesting to note the latest draft of the ACTA actually incorporates the doctrine of manufacturing fiction as a minimum standard for border enforcement against in transit IP goods (excluding patents). Hardly settled, this issue.


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