The index maps the IP environment of 25 countries
by 30 factors the GIPC believes are indicative of fostering
growth and development. The number of countries was up on the
11 that were included in the first index, released last year,
but still puzzlingly omits Europe’s largest
The survey has the US on top for the second year in a row. Its score of
29 put it ahead of the UK, with 28, and France, with 27. These
three countries are followed by four Asia-Pacific countries:
Singapore, Australia, Japan and New Zealand.
Some would disagree with the ranking of the US at number
one. Certainly many believe its patent system needs to change.
The system is odds on to undergo further legislative upheaval
only a few years after 2011’s America Invents Act,
which took many years to pass and was meant to put the issue to
bed for a long time. In addition, continuing confusion remains
over key questions such as whether or not software is
patentable or not. On top of all that, the world’s
supposed leading IP environment has not even been able to find
a leader for its patent office despite having more than a year
to have done so.
An example of the disillusion and concerns about the US
patent system came from former AIPLA president Jeffrey Lewis.
In December he told me that the US system was in such a state
that it was now "at a crossroads".
"For the past 100-plus year we have been saying the US is
the better patent system for innovation," the Patterson Belknap
Webb & Tyler partner told me. "That is no longer true. The
courts have so muddied the water as to make it absolutely
inconceivable that anyone can have any certainty. The only
thing you can be certain about is that our system is less
protective than other systems at this point."
Elsewhere, the report reveals encouraging news for China,
Russia and Malaysia.
For patents, China was assigned the highest score of all
middle-income countries and outperformed some high-income
countries such as Chile and UAE. But the country still faces
challenges in trade mark and trade secrets, which pushed its
overall score below those two countries, the GIPC noted.
Russia’s new notice-and-takedown provision
regarding the responsibilities of "information intermediaries"
suggests progress in protecting copyright. Malaysia has also
introduced important changes to its copyright laws.
The GIPC also noted the 12 countries involved in the
negotiations of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement
have a chance to improve their IP environments. Ten of those
countries are ranked in the GIPC report.
In a contrast, a number of countries’ IP
environments have worsened in the past year, including India,
South Africa, Ukraine and Australia.
India remains the weakest IP environment of all countries in
the index. This is a result of the continued use of compulsory
licences, patent revocations, and weak legislative and
enforcement mechanisms. These have raised concerns about
India’s commitment to promote innovation and
South Africa received a poor score in the patents category
because of the lack of patent term extension for pharmaceutical
products and regulatory data protection for clinical data.
Ukraine’s score is boosted by its high score in
the treaties category. But its IP environment continues to be
weak across all IP categories.
Australia’s plain packaging requirements limit
the ability of trade mark owners to exploit their rights and
sends what the GIPC terms a "chilling message to brand owners
interested in selling in the Australian market". Five countries
last year brought action against Australian in the WTO on the
basis that the new law violates its WTO commitments.
Canada was singled out for both praise and criticism. It
recently finished negotiations with the EU on the Comprehensive
Economic and Trade Agreement, which would improve the
country’s IP environment should its provisions be
successfully implemented. But it continues to lag behind other
developed nations on protecting and enforcing IP. Particular
concerns exist about the lack of a takedown mechanism or
equivalent obligation on the copyright side, and the onerous
patent utility requirements related to pharmaceutical