India is Blowing Its Chance to Become a Leading Startup Culture By Not Protecting Intellectual Property


Indian startup culture is at a crossroads — in one sense, numerous venture capitalists and investors of all industries salivate at the still-developing opportunities in e-commerce, healthcare, finance and government. However, the country is often its own worst enemy, particularly with its sketchy intellectual property protection policies.

This is all being brought to light now, according to Free Enterprise, as the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee held a hearing this week to discuss the trade relationship between the U.S. and India. Many of India’s biggest trade partners and investors are stymied by the lack of enforcement for intellectual property rights, such as its refusal to recognize certain pharmaceutical patents, as well as its “compulsory license” policies which basically allow companies to infringe on intellectual property without seeking permission.

The country also ranked last in an ‘International IP Index’ released  by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center, ranked immediately behind China, Russia and Brazil. A coincidence that those four bottom-ranked countries are also constitute the fast-growing “BRIC” markets?

The lack of IP enforcement and/or general nonsensical laws underline the country’s economic problems as a whole, and help explain why the country was called the ‘fallen angel of the BRICS‘ last summer.

I currently live in India, and while the country has many entrepreneur success stories, there are still complaints of bribery, corruption and general thuggery in many sectors. Citizens joke that meetings of the Indian Parliament often resemble bar fights rather than legislation delegations.

Personally? The country introduced me to bhel puri, so it’s hard to complain — I think everyone should come here, learn and help the country grow. It’ll take patience and persistence, but that’s entrepreneurs’ specialty anyway.