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Friday, December 18, 1998
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India may recognise product patents
NEW DELHI, Dec 17 - The introduction of the Patents (Amendment) Bill, 1998, granting exclusive marketing rights for a period of five years to manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals marks India’s recognition of product patents.
Patents Bill in nutshell

Attacks on Iraq trigger panic selling
MUMBAI, Dec 17 — The sensex dropped by over 72 points as equities nosedived on Bombay Stock Exchange here today on panic selling induced by reports of air attacks on Iraq jointly by the USA and Britain.
US company floats $ 100 million fund
NEW DELHI, Dec 17 — New York International Inc, the global arm of New York Life Insurance Company,today announced the launching of a $ 100 million fund to invest in the Indian economy.

Haryana exports rise 64.4 per cent
CHANDIGARH, Dec 17 — Mr P.K. Gupta, General Manager, Punjab National Bank PNB, said here today the exports from Haryana during the first half of the current financial year has increased by 64.4 per cent from Rs 1018.67 crore (Sept 97) to Rs 1674.64 crore (Sept 98).

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Euro? What’s it?
IT may be the greatest attempt in centuries to unite Europe but most British people seem blissfully ignorant about the euro. With less than three weeks before its launch, a poll has found that 51 per cent of people do not have a clue that the new currency is called the euro.

The Dutch like it
FOUR hundred years ago Amsterdam was the proud capital of the wealthiest country on earth, a city awash with silks and spices brought home by merchants who had travelled the world. So great was the Netherlands’ might that Samuel Pepys confided, rather indelicately, to his diary: ``Methinks, by God, the devil must shit Dutchmen.’’

LSE members to widen reach
LUDHIANA, Dec 17 — Ludhiana Stock Exchange plans to broadbase the business of its members by facilitating trading on wide area network (WAN) using VSAT as the medium. The Board of Directors of LSE has already approved in principle the scheme and negotiations with vendors for the purchase of VSAT’s was at an advance stage.

Insure films, says FICCI
NEW DELHI, Dec 17 — The FICCI today suggested the provision of total insurance cover, including those related to risk abandonment, personnel and liability, for the film industry.

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India may recognise product patents
From T.V.Lakshminarayan
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 17 - The introduction of the Patents (Amendment) Bill, 1998, granting exclusive marketing rights (EMRs) for a period of five years to manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals marks India’s recognition of product patents.

Till now the country has been recognising only process patents, which meant an Indian manufacturer could manufacture any pharmaceutical drugs or agricultural chemicals available in the international market with a different process.

The decision to introduce the Bill to grant EMRs followed India’s ratifying the World Trade Organisation agreement, which also contained a provision on trade related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPs). The agreement came into force on January 1, 1995.

The TRIPs agreement prescribes the minimum standards to be adopted by the member countries in respect of eight areas of intellectual property. Though India has a transition period of five years with effect from January 1, 1995, to apply the provisions of the agreement and an additional period of five years for extending product patent protection to areas of technology not protected so far, certain obligations were required to be fulfilled with effect from the date the agreement came into being.

Notwithstanding the transition period, the agreement on TRIPs had a clause which said that member countries which do not provide for product patents in the areas of pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals provide for a means to receive product patent applications for pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals. Pending the clearance of the product patent application, the member countries were required to grant exclusive marketing rights for a period of five years or until the patent was granted or rejected, whichever was shorter.

Since the Patents Act, 1970, in India did not provide for the grant of product patents in the fields of agricultural chemicals and pharmaceuticals, it is required to grant exclusive marketing rights to the applicants of product patents.

Under the proposed amendment, where an applicant had filed for patent rights before any invention was made in India or abroad before January 1, 1995, and has received the approval to sell or distribute the article or substance from the designated authority of the Central Government, he would now have exclusive right by himself, his agents or licensees to sell or distribute in India the article or substance for which patent has been sought.

The Government, while granting EMRs has, however, made a provision in the Bill which says that whenever the Government feels it necessary or expedient in public interest, it can allow the sale or distribution of the article by a person other than a person to whom exclusive marketing rights have been granted.

Apart from preserving the Government’s ability to intervene, further restrictions on inventions made in India are also proposed to be removed. The Bill contains a provision for omitting Section 39 of the Patents Act, 1970, which deals with these restrictions.

Certain safeguards are proposed to be provided in the form of public non-commercial use, price fixation and compulsory licensing. The Bill also contains some measures in the interest of national security.

India had initially fulfilled the obligations under the WTO by issuing an Ordinance on amending the Patents Act in December 1994. Subsequently, the Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in 1995 and then introduced in the Rajya Sabha where it was referred to a Select Committee of the House. As the Select Committee did not submit its report before the dissolution of the tenth Lok Sabha, the Bill lapsed.

Recently, the USA raised a dispute against India at the WTO alleging non-fulfilment of India’s obligations with regard to the TRIPs agreement. A panel set up by the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO examined the allegations made by the USA and ruled that India had not complied with the obligations. On an appeal made by India, the matter was considered by the appellate body of the WTO which also recommended that India take the necessary steps to comply with its obligations.

It was subsequently decided that this be done by April 19, 1999. Failure to comply with these obligations within the stipulated period would entail action against India in terms of the Dispute Settlement understanding of the WTO Agreement.

Patents Bill in nutshell

* The Patents Act, 1970, does not provide for product patents in pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals.

* The Patents (Amendment) Bill, 1998, grants exclusive marketing rights to manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals.

* The amendment to the Patents Act is required under the WTO agreement.Top

 

Attacks on Iraq trigger panic selling
Sensex dips 72 points

MUMBAI, Dec 17 (PTI) — The sensex dropped by over 72 points as equities nosedived on Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) here today on panic selling induced by reports of air attacks on Iraq jointly by the USA and Britain.

Dealers said that reports of a series of military strikes against Iraq for its failure to cooperate with the United Nation’s Weapons Inspectors created chaos in the market which led to panic selling by leading operators in all bourses of the country.

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) were, however, buyers of select pharmaceutical and software shares such as Dr Reddy, Glaxo, Satyam Computers, Zee Tele and ITC which were attractive at lower levels.

Some deals were effected for covering up positions ahead of the current settlement. Local institutions supported MTNL, Mah & Mah, Glaxo and Reliance in small lots for squaring up positions.

Barring a few scrips, all-round selling pressure engulfed the market bringing down the sensex below 2900-mark level.

Activity was also affected by the procedural wrangles which were likely to arise over the introduction of the Patents (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha. The Left parties had opposed the Bill in the House before introduction.

The BSE sensitive index opened lower at 2884.65 and fluctuated between 2919.47 and 2855.10. The sensex closed at 2864.44, with a fall of 72.48 points from the previous close of 2936.92. The broad-based BSE-100 closed with a decline of 32.50 points at 1267.86 from the overnight close of 1300.36.

The BSE-200 ended lower at 294.05 and the Dollex at 115.05 from the last close of 301.07 and 117.80 respectively.

Among the pharmaceuticals Glaxo steadied to close at 605.75 from the last close of 609.00. Dr reddy’s Lab reduced the losses to close at 445.75 from 448.75 previously. Knoll Pharma gained by 12.25 to 485.75 and Pfizer by 20.00 to 839.50.

The total turnover on the BOLT system was Rs 1354.07 crore. Satyam Computers was the most prominent scrip with a turnover of Rs 311.36 crore. Zee Tele totalled Rs 182.16 crore, ITC Rs 168.44 crore, Pentafour Software Rs 110.80 crore and Telco Rs 88.89 crore.Top

 

US company floats $ 100 million fund
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 17 — New York International Inc, the global arm of New York Life Insurance Company,today announced the launching of a $ 100 million fund to invest in the Indian economy.

The fund will focus on investments in sectors such as telecommunications, infrastructure projects, power supply to industrial users, software and export related industries.

Vickers Ballas Securities India Pvt. Ltd will serve as the investment advisor to New York Life International Fund.

Announcing the launch, the President of New York Life International, Mr Michael Nocera said that this is the single largest equity commitment of the company in Asia.

The fund’s investment will, however, not be limited to the infrastructure sector and the fund will also look at other “high growth” areas.

Mr Nocera said the fund would like to invest with “strong Indian entrepreneurs who have a proven track record” for periods usually up to seven years.

Regarding the Indian insurance sector, Mr Nocera said that the company would like to participate in it once the legislation is put in place.

The company has already held discussions with several Indian companies for setting up possible joint ventures. No commitments have been made so far.

On the issue of foreign equity cap as envisaged in the Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) Bill, Mr Nocera said that “ideally we would like to set up a joint venture in which we hold a 50 per cent stake”. But at the same time we are not unhappy with the 26 per cent cap.Top

 

Haryana exports rise 64.4 per cent
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 17 — Mr P.K. Gupta, General Manager, Punjab National Bank PNB, said here today the exports from Haryana during the first half of the current financial year has increased by 64.4 per cent from Rs 1018.67 crore (Sept 97) to Rs 1674.64 crore (Sept 98). Banks handled export business of Rs 809.41 crore as against Rs 647.14 crore during the corresponding period last year, thus registering an increase of Rs 162.27 crore.

He was speaking at the state level Export Promotion Committee, Haryana convened by the PNB. The chief guest of the meeting was Ms Sudha Sharma, Commissioner and Secretary, Institutional Finance and Credit Control, Haryana. Mr R.P. Gupta, General Manager of PNB, Mr S.S. Dhillon, Director of Institutional Finance and Credit Control, Haryana, Mr U.S Paliwal, Deputy General Manager, of the RBI, and controlling heads of member banks in the state were among those who attended.Top

 

Euro? What’s it?
From Nicholas Watt In London

IT may be the greatest attempt in centuries to unite Europe but most British people seem blissfully ignorant about the euro. With less than three weeks before its launch, a poll has found that 51 per cent of people do not have a clue that the new currency is called the euro. Guesses at its name included equarder, ecru, etu, eu and even the curo.

As for the value of the euro, a mere 10 per cent of people polled by BBC-TV’s Money Programme correctly said that it will be worth about 70 pence (pound 0.70). Estimates of its value against the pound ranged from one penny (pound 0.01) to eight pounds.

A mere 5 per cent knew that euro notes and coins will be introduced in the year 2002, three years after 11 EU countries lock their currencies into Economic and Monetary Union next month. Most people thought they could use notes and coins in the mysterious currency from next year. The BBC interviewed 1,000 at the end of last month for the survey.
— The Guardian
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The Dutch like it
From Jon Henley in Amsterdam

FOUR hundred years ago Amsterdam was the proud capital of the wealthiest country on earth, a city awash with silks and spices brought home by merchants who had travelled the world. So great was the Netherlands’ might that Samuel Pepys confided, rather indelicately, to his diary: ``Methinks, by God, the devil must shit Dutchmen.’’

That was a long time ago. Since then the Dutch have been trampled over many times by belligerent neighbours. In peace, they have tailored their ambitions to their more modest weight in the world, combining their mercantile tradition and the asset of their geographical position to become the middlemen for a continent.

“It’s a very straightforward question, and just about every Dutch person realises it” said Ton Havermans, aged 39, an Amsterdam grain dealer. “We’re a small country surrounded by bigger countries, so we’ve always been pro-Europe. But above all, we are a trading nation and a nation of pragmatists. It will be a hassle, but it will save us one hell of a lot of money.” And if the Dutch needed reminding of what is at stake, a government brochure spells it out: more than half of what the Netherlands produces each year is destined for export — two-thirds of it to members of the European Union — and two-thirds of its imports come from the EU.
— The Guardian
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LSE members to widen reach
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 17 — Ludhiana Stock Exchange plans to broadbase the business of its members by facilitating trading on wide area network (WAN) using VSAT as the medium. The Board of Directors of LSE has already approved in principle the scheme and negotiations with vendors for the purchase of VSAT’s was at an advance stage.

Mr Vishwanath Dhiri, President of LSE, told TNS here today that the WAN expansion would facilitate in creating a new customer base for the members. VSAT connectivity would enhance the reach of the LSE members to areas which were today not accessible directly and would allow investors to avail themselves of the sophisticated trading facilities provided by LSE without having to actually visit the stock exchange. Investors would benefit from this transparent and efficient system.

“We also plan to provide value-added services to investors in our region, including the facility of forward trading and trading in demat shares at better terms as compared to our bigger counterparts. We have received permission from SEBI for the expansion of our trading activities anywhere in India”, Mr Dhiri said.

Ludhiana Stock Exchange has already set up a settlement guarantee fund whereby all trades are guaranteed for payment. LSE is the second stock exchange after BSE which has introduced the modified carry forward system. This allows investors the facility of carrying forward their trades up to 90 days after payment of the necessary margins.

LSE became the fourth stock exchange after NSE, BSE and CSE to commence trading in the unified segment where both deliveries in physical as well as demat form were compulsorily accepted by the buyer. Trading in demat form will facilitate a free movement of securities from the one exchange to another and will benefit the investors by the elimination of bad deliveries, immediate transfer of securities, elimination of the levy of stamp duty, reduced volume of paper, reduced transaction costs and elimination of risks associated with physical shares.Top

 

Insure films, says FICCI

NEW DELHI, Dec 17 (PTI) — The FICCI today suggested the provision of total insurance cover, including those related to risk abandonment, personnel and liability, for the film industry.

To explore the possibilities of providing novel insurance schemes to films, which was recently according the industry status, the Chamber was organising a conference tomorrow on “Film Finance and Insurance” in Mumbai, an FICCI press note said here today.

In a paper prepared by the Chamber, it said the insurance could be provided against loss damage or destruction of equipment. Abandonment insurance loss damage or destruction of equipment. Abandonment insurance could also be opted for indemnifying promotional expenditure undertaken by film units.

For the third-party liability where a film unit might be dragged to court for inadvertently causing injuring or damaging property, a public liability cover could help provide compensation to the affected party, it said.Top

 

Check Out
by Pushpa Girimaji
‘Cease & desist’ from ads that lie

EVER since the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act was amended in 1984 to bring unfair trade practices under the purview of the MRTP Commission, false or misleading claims made through advertisements have come under the scrutiny of the commission. From fly-by-night companies promising unbelievable returns on investments to manufacturers attributing non-existent qualities to their products, the office of the Director-General (Investigation and Registration) has investigated into a wide range of claims and hauled up those indulging in unfair trade practice.

While usually the MRTP Commission passes “ cease and desist” orders against such advertisements under Section 36 D of the MRTP Act, in the case against the Ion Exchange India, it also directed the company to seek the approval of the commission before issuing any advertisement about the product in future. And it was this additional direction that came up for scrutiny before the Supreme Court recently.

Ion Exchange India, manufacturers of water purifiers, issued an advertisement claiming that their purifiers provided 100 per cent safe drinking water instantly and that the water remained bacteria-free even during storage. The commission instituted an enquiry into the claims made in the advertisement and subsequently passed “cease and desist” orders against it. The order further directed that “if the respondent wants to issue an advertisement in future about this product, it will get a draft of its advertisement approved by the commission”.

Ion Exchange India field a writ petition in the High Court in Mumbai, against the additional directions issued by the commission, contending that the commission did not have such powers. The High Court disagreed with the contention and held that the directions were meant to subserve the object of effectively checking repetition of the unfair trade practices.

The Supreme Court, before which the manufacturer filed a special leave petition, considered the relevant portion of the Act and also the argument of the Additional Solicitor-General that the commission had ample power to deal with any infraction of its cease and desist orders.

Section 36 D of the Act, pertaining to “powers which may be exercised by the commission inquiring into an unfair trade practice”, says that if after inquiry, the commission is of the opinion that the unfair practice is prejudicial to public trade interest or to the interest of any consumer or consumers, then it can, by order, direct that: (a) the practice shall be discontinued or shall not be repeated. (b) any agreement relating to such unfair trade practice shall be void or shall stand modified in respect thereof in such manner as may be specified in the order and (c) any information, statement or advertisement relating to such unfair trade practice shall be disclosed, issued or published, as the case may be, in such manner as may be specified in the order.

The Supreme Court held that Section 36 D (1), as it stood at the time of its order by the commission, did not empower it to issue such a direction. Even 36 D (1) (c), which was added through an amendment in 1991, could not be so read as enabling the commission to require all advertisements that the manufacturer might issue in the future to be approved by the commission in advance, the apex court said. The requirement under 36 D (1) (c) to disclose information relates only to the unfair trade practice under enquiry. As to public interest, the commission was sufficiently armed under the Act to take action against those who breached its “cease and desist” orders. We did not think that it required the additional power of supervision of the kind indicated in the direction to effectively carry out its obligations, the apex court said. In the end, it concluded that the commission could not incorporate such direction in its final “cease and desist” orders.

Even though the commission can issue interim injunction, usually, by the time an advertisement is stopped by the commission, the advertisement will have already conveyed the false or misleading information contained in it. A corrective advertisement, informing consumers that the previous advertisements are deceptive or false or misleading, and giving any additional information as required, will certainly help in correcting the misrepresentation made by the earlier advertisement. And as far as the manufacturer or the service provider who has issued such misleading advertisement is concerned, he will be forced to spend money on advertisement publicising the fact that he misled consumers. This will certainly act as a deterrent.Top

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  Forex rates
MUMBAI, Dec 17 (PTI) — The following are inter-bank forex rates (in rupees per unit — buyer/seller.

US $ 42.54/55
Sterling 71.39/41
Deutche mark 25.59/61
Jap yen (100) 36.60/62
The RBI reference rate was Rs 42.55.

Gold soars
NEW DELHI, Dec 17 (PTI) — Ripples of the US-led air attack on Iraq brought nervousness among other Asian region markets and influenced the bullion market here today as both the precious metals jumped up to close with gains. The following were today’s quotations: Silver (ready) 7450, delivery 7450, coins buyer 10.700 and seller 10.800. Standard gold 4340, ornaments 4190 and sovereign 3800.

Warehousing
Tribune News Service
CHANDIGARH, Dec 17 — The Haryana Warehousing Corporation has earned a net profit of Rs 22 crore during 1997-98, said the Chairman, Mr Rattal Lal Kataria, after presenting a cheque of Rs 25 lakh to Mr Bansi Lal for the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, here today. A dry port was being constructed at a cost of Rs 23 crore at Rewari. There was also a plan to construct a similar port at Palwal.

Citibank card
MUMBAI, Dec 17 (PTI) — Citibank India on Thursday launched the electronic version of the traveller’s cheque, the “Citibank Visa Travel Money (VTM) card”, a pre paid card that allows customers travelling overseas to carry their money in a safe and convenient way.

IDBI Bank
Tribune News Service
NEW DELHI, Dec 17 — The IDBI Bank has received a rating of “PRI” from the Credit Analysis and Research Limited (CARL) for its Certificate of Deposits (CDs) programme with a maturity not exceeding 12 months. The rating is the highest for short-term instruments and this indicates superior capacity for the repayment of short-term promissory obligations, according to a bank press note issued here on Thursday.
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