Thank you Minister Rama Rao for that gracious introduction and hosting us today. It’s a real pleasure to be back in Telangana, which has been a partner for the United States in so many areas, from defense to IP to clean energy. In fact, just last week Boeing and Tata broke ground on a new facility to produce fuselages for Apache helicopters here in Hyderabad – yet another testament to this city’s boundless dynamism!
I’m very proud the U.S. Embassy was able to support the launch of the Telangana Intellectual Property Crime Unit, or TIPCU, the first ever state level IP enforcement agency in India. I congratulate the Government of Telangana, the Telangana Police, and FICCI for their leadership supporting this great initiative. Hyderabad has long been an IPR leader. A few years ago, the U.S. Consulate here and our Patent and Trademark Office funded a counter-piracy app called Indian Movie Cop.
A special thanks also to the Film Chamber of Commerce which played an instrumental role in realizing TIPCU. I understand there are some Telugu films stars here today. Susvaagatam!
Two months ago, in an op-ed for World IPR day, I wrote that whether it is music, film or literature, nothing stirs the soul like culture and creativity. That is especially true in the United States and India, two robust democracies that value innovation and entrepreneurship.
But the system that supports this creativity and imagination is under strain. In today’s digital age, media can be shared faster and distributed more widely than ever before and as a result, piracy has become rampant. Every day, illegal downloads, movie theater recordings, and other forms of intellectual property theft are negatively impacting industries and artists around the world. This affects the livelihoods of thousands of men and women who develop, produce, and distribute music, films and television programs across the United States and India. How can the musicians, directors, and artists we love continue their wonderful work if we don’t protect their livelihoods?
IPR infringement also impacts India’s global economic reputation as a destination for investment. Investors today are watching with interest how governments and businesses are working together to protect intellectual property rights, and they will make decisions based upon the quality of these actions.
I think the Prime Minister might have been the first world leader to joke about intellectual property rights to Congress! India’s recently released IPR policy was a step in the right direction towards nurturing a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship within a strong national IPR framework. There’s always however room for improvement and we continue to have a robust and open dialogue with the Government of India on the full range of intellectual property rights issues including patent, copyright, and trademark protection. We need to arrive at that optimal place, where IPR frameworks provide the strong protection innovators need, without the encumbrance of red tape, delays, or frivolous litigation that stifles innovation.
We also need to improve enforcement on the ground and that’s where initiatives like TIPCU come in. TIPCU can play a crucial role locally in helping to improve the implementation of IP laws. U.S. and Indian agencies regularly meet to exchange best practices on copyright protection and we will continue to do so to support units like TIPCU. I hope one day TIPCU can become a model for the entire country.
India and the United States share a mutual interest in strengthening our intellectual property regimes for a wide range of products and sectors in order to grow our economies. By working together at both the local and national level, we can help India build an IPR environment that incentivizes creativity and deters theft. We owe it to the artists and musicians who everyday make our lives a little brighter. To the officers of TIPCU, best of luck as you begin your important mission. Thank you.